Physically shaking – week 19 as a PhD student

PhD Life

Once again, a skill that I thought was overhyped in its importance has had a significant impact on me this week. I am talking about networking; as an introvert, this is a not a skill I enjoy nurturing. I mentioned last week that I had to give a presentation this week, it went okay. It was a three-minute thesis competition that I did not have a choice about my participation. I felt okay giving the speech as I had practised it around 50 times in the mirror; however, my legs were physically shaking behind the lectern. I did my talk, got off the stage and that was that, or so it thought. At the lunch break, to my shock, I had many people coming up to me and saying that they found my talk interesting. I accepted the compliments and just assumed they were being nice, and perhaps they were. The next day I ran into someone whom I had never met, and again, to my surprise, they said they liked my talk. I started talking back to this person, and asking her about her work; we had a good conversation about measuring sugars! The most exciting impact from my talk was yet to come; I received an email from someone in the audience who worked for the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), and she said that she enjoyed my talk and wanted me to write a guest post for their website(1). Of course, I will jump at the opportunity, and post a link to it on here once it is live; the only issue is that it will remove my anonymity, maybe it is time to own my work. So, what did I learn from this experience? Giving talks, no matter how terrifying and seemingly irrelevant looks as if it is an excellent way of increasing your opportunities.

The conference that I had to give my talk at occupied most of my time this week. However, I did manage to run two different experiments; making this week one of the busiest so far. I measured the volatile compounds given off from rocket leaves, and the microorganisms that reside on them. I also got close to finding out what compounds I have seen that are not in the standard library’s.  I also extracted glucosinolates from rocket leaves and will review those next week. This weekend, I have spent almost all of it trying to make a poster for a conference I have next week; I am looking forward to the conference but do not relish making this poster. February has consisted of two presentations and a poster presentation; I hope I do not have any more for a long while as I need to get my head down and write.

I did not win any of the prizes on offer for the three-minute-thesis competition; normally, I would probably just ignore this. I have kept the book of abstracts, and intend on going through it and looking at the writing to try and figure out where I can improve. The younger me would not do this, I believe in learning from your mistakes and intend to get around to reading the abstract booklet later today! Maybe I will do a teardown of what I wrote and how I could improve it, and compare it to some of the other entries.

On a more personal note, we – my partner and I – have had a friend staying with us, as she split with her partner and needed somewhere to stay while she finds a new property. She is occupying the room where I keep my gaming PC, and as a result, I have not been playing games all week. This might be the solution I needed to the time suck, that is video games. It has been quite refreshing to have a flatmate; I have not shared accommodation with anyone other than my partner before – except holidays – so this should be an exciting experience, and might stop us becoming too comfortable and predictable with our lifestyle.

The most significant lesson I learnt, or re-learnt this week is how important networking is. I shall ensure that I keep it at the forefront of my mind when considering what I should be doing with my time. I hope you all had a great week, please let me know what you’re up to, maybe link your blog?

(1) – I ended up going through with that guest blog post which you can see here

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

22 thoughts on “Physically shaking – week 19 as a PhD student

  1. I love hearing about your progress. I know it’s probably pretty intimidating thinking about losing your anonymity, but I think that is just part of the growing progress you are making in your life and field. Go for it. I have found that most people who read my blog are supportive of me and my writing. I know mine is a humor blog, but still I have found myself surprised by how kind and supportive people really can be. You are working so hard, why not give us a chance to know you more. Being known should not be the scary thing that it has become. I have found that being known is the secret to deep friendships.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Bonnie! I guess I will slowly transition into a fully formed identity rather than anonymous blogger. It is still a scary prospect!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Well done! As an introvert myself, I know how stressful doing a public presentation can be and the effort that goes into prepping for it. The feeling of accomplishment once you have completed it and get positive feedback is indescribable.


  3. Your fear of speaking and recognition are because You have important and valuable insights and over time, revelations that you will uncover that will benefit the human family.
    I believe in you. We all have a purpose that reveals over time with experience. You have taken steps into the darkness, and as you proceed, illuminate your surroundings.
    You have a message my friend, may you ever have the courage to deliver it.


  4. Just read your “Guest Post”
    A thought: in the trucking industry, we have temperature indicators that attach to freight as an indicator as to if that freight has been exposed above or below the tolerance temperature for that freight.
    I wonder if in your work something similar could be developed for packaging to indicate the activity levels of microbes. Just a thought. And good article by the way.


  5. Just reading your blog brought back the fear I felt when I first spoke at a conference during my PhD at the end of the last millennium (seriously). Everyone says being a teacher makes it easier, but I don’t think it has for me. Different audience, I guess. Well done on the guest post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Kay Jay. I have always had the suspicion that it would not get easier. I am essentially telling my supervisor’s what they want to hear, ‘ I would like to get better at public speaking’, when in reality I would be happy to never do it again.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with your PhD. I know how hard that process can be.
    Also “…as a result, I have not been playing games all week. This might be the solution I needed to the time suck, that is video games.”
    I am so torn about this line. I hardly play video games at all anymore and I miss them, but they can be a time suck. Make sure to take care of yourself mentally away from research in some way or other. I’m about to read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I hope it will have some insights for me as to how to relax effectively.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started my Ph.D. in Education in the summer of 2002 and finished fall of 2004. I took 5 courses sometimes in the summertime to finish early. I taught full-time at the high-school level during the year and couldn’t take over 3 courses at a time. It is rewarding, as it helped increase my teacher salary. You do sacrifice a lot though – socialism, time with friends and family, and time to enjoy life. I couldn’t travel as much either, as I was finishing my dissertation in two semesters. Once you do finish, you are proud of your accomplishment. Good luck and remember that everyone has a rocky road, but the stamina is what keeps you going.


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