Am I doing it right? week 26 as a PhD student

PhD Life

Twenty-six weeks of blog posts! I have a suspicion that I am among a small percentage of people who have kept a blog going for this long. To all those who have joined me and kept me motivated, I thank you.

Easter aftermath. This week In the meanderings of me, I only spent four days working as for Monday I Was travelling back from my parent’s house in Oxfordshire. I walked into the University on Tuesday to find that it deserted. I should pay attention to term-dates; for some reason, I have been thinking as a PhD student I don’t have the same timetabling as everyone else. The reality of the situation is that the undergraduate students get the most time off and the staff get ever so slightly less. I am somewhere in between staff and student; if the University is closed, I work from home. I may indulge in some holidays occasionally, but for the most part, I march to the beat of my own drum; I consider this the best part of doing a PhD.

Out of the three possible days I could spend in the lab I spent Wednesday working on the ammonia assay; I am not getting the numbers that I should so there is something wrong somewhere, and I need to start the debugging procedure. I think the problem comes down to one of the variables I have to plug into the equation but I haven’t done the work to confirm what it is so that fun little puzzle is yet to come maybe next week. On Thursday I was doing some work with volatile compounds and trap retention; the gist is this, add compound onto a trap and measure the compound, store some of the traps for a week and see how much of the compound has disappeared. From this work, I will know how many samples I can take on a given day and how long I can store them for. Generally with flavour work, sample storage is not an issue; however, I need to extract my samples within a specific time frame. It takes an hour to do one extraction, so on a good day, I could do twelve samples. Twelve, if you know anything about statistics, is a relatively small sample size, and I need to take them on twelve consecutive days so I can see how the compounds extracted change over time. For anyone who has worked in a lab you will know that getting access to machinery is spotty at best; as I need to measure samples over a twelve day period, the ability to store samples will save much of my sanity. As you will be reading this four months after I am writing it, the problem will either be solved or proclaimed too challenging for me! Let us see what happens.
Speaking of sanity, when you’re in the lab with a cold for twelve hours, alone, with nothing but the whirring of various machines, sanity does not compute.

I have spent the rest of my time preparing for a meeting with my supervisor I have on Monday; which will also help to prepare me for my six-month review I have on Friday. To prepare I have been writing down all my thoughts on my project so far and trying to pre-empt questions. Most of my questions boil down to whether or not I am doing the right things, and the ideal outcome of the meetings will be the phrase ‘keep calm and carry on’.

I am going to stop writing now and head to the gym as I have eaten five Easter eggs in as many days!


Yes this was written quite a while ago see this for more information

Published by Louis

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

7 thoughts on “Am I doing it right? week 26 as a PhD student

  1. I’ve started reading you in the past few weeks. Have you written about the impact on your thinking of all of this writing? There’s the idea that writing is a tool for knowing. Writing isn’t just a tool for recording what happened or for expressing what you have in your head, but also that all of the writing teaches you something. Have you noticed anything like that?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If anything, you’re probably a part of a much larger percentage.

    I’ve been maintaining a blog since 2006. I have bunch of followers, both wordpress and elsewhere, but only about 5 active people who read no matter what and mostly comment on Facebook.

    I decided to follow your blog because you seem sincere. But the truth is, your blog is set up to attract PHD students only. Nothing wrong with that. It just means you’re not going to get millions of followers overnight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback, I was hoping to get more of a general audience too, from people that were curious as to what a PhD was like. I have also been trying to make some more generla posts as well.


      1. It’s not the easiest thing. Some pots get lots of attention, some get none. I never guess beforehand. It’s always a surprise.


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