Tag Archives: grad school

An Update

Today is Monday 10th February. 

It’s 19 weeks until I start my new job. (Not academia: surprise, surprise!)

It’s under 4 months until I get married (Yeah, so that happened). 

And it’s about 7 weeks until I have to submit my thesis. My staggeringly not finished thesis. 

Progress has been slow but steady since Christmas, but today I have got in and felt completely unable to write. So I’ve tidied my desk (a bit) and drunk some tea (a lot) and wondered just how long it had been since I’d written anything on here. Answer: more than 6 months. How did that even happen? 

So, no promises, but I’ll see if I can keep some sort of log of the last few weeks of PhD-dom on here. If not for anybody else, then for myself. 

Just keep swimming…

The Ramen Diaries Part 9: The Thesis Plan Appears

With 9 months left on the clock before I have to submit, it’s time for the bakingbiologist to start writing. Given I haven’t exactly finished lab work this is a slightly terrifying prospect, but two weeks ago I took to it with gusto on the instruction of my supervisor. It turns out that ‘You should start writing’ is actually supervisor-speak for “We should have a meeting about how one writes a thesis and what I expect from you” and cheerfully producing a first draft of Chapter 1 is liable to lead to cross words rather than exclamations of joy, but more on that another time.

This week’s most valuable lesson is: Before you start writing a thesis, write a thesis plan! For one thing, it allows you to defend your structural choices and talk about figures before you’ve put in two weeks of solid work, and when you’re not feeling protective about the work because you haven’t already done it.  Continue reading

Starting Grad School: You don’t have to wrestle the snake!

Before we start, you need to read this:  Partly because my punch line is going to hang on you being familiar with the metaphor, and partly because if you’re here, then basically you need it in your life.

Anyway,

It would be safe to say that my PhD has not been plain sailing.  I’m not sure that anybody’s doctorate actually goes smoothly and pleasantly at all times, but I genuinely believe that – as the lovely Jenny Rohn from LabLit.com said yesterday – if you can survive this then you can survive anything. So how do you? Survive, I mean. I’ve talked about making your PhD easier by being organised from the start, and finding a support network and by not letting yourself get dragged down. But what about when you’re completely at rock bottom? What about when it’s time to do or die?

Continue reading

Adventures in protein land part 2: Cytosolic protein extraction

So this is going to be more like a lab book entry than anything else, but I’m finally starting to get my head around some of this protein malarkey and figured I should write it down in multiple places!  Continue reading

Adventures in protein land

I’m not a protein biologist.

I wouldn’t usually describe myself as a geneticist either, unless trying to clarify what it is that I spend my time doing, in the same way that for years I would describe myself as playing the violin rather than as a violinist, because that seemed to indicate some level of skill that I didn’t feel I yet had.

But I’m definitely not a protein biologist, because I did no protein work as an undergrad, and I didn’t sign up to do a protein based PhD, and there’s only one post doc in the lab who has the first clue about proteins and – while she is possibly the most helpful post doc ever to cross my academic path – there’s only so much help someone can give you when you don’t know what questions to ask.

Yet in spite of this, I appear to be in a situation where doing protein work is inevitable. A few months ago I learned about PAGE gels and Coomassie blue staining and Western blots. Now, I must actually start extracting protein from real live plants, as opposed to my nice-n-easy-burst-like-a-bubble-E. coli. It turns out that this is rather more complicated than I had hoped.  Continue reading

The Ramen Diaries: Part 8 – Protein Extractions

After a week off with flu, there’s just no avoiding it. Today I have to get back in the lab and do my first ever protein extractions from a plant. I have a protocol, that I am assured works, and no reason to suspect it doesn’t. And I have been sat here for 54 minutes doing admin instead of even going to the greenhouse to get my plants. Looks like the stage fright is back. Le sigh….

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Starting Grad School: The beauty of a clean lab book

Occasionally, I have the realisation that I am not entirely sane. Not in a catastrophic hearing-voices type way, but when I talk to myself and then remember that this is not normal. This morning I arrived at the sports centre to discover that circuits wasn’t on, and I would just have to go run in the gym instead. Upon finding my mp3 player in the bottom of my bag, and realising that I had in fact remembered to put it on hold (therefore meaning there was enough battery to get me through a 40 minute hill slog) I smiled and mentally called myself a good girl . Continue reading