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
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.
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?
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
Posted in Biology, In the lab, Protein, Science
Tagged biology, chemicals, Everyday lab, grad school, in the lab, protein, proteomics, ramen, science.
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
Posted in Biology, Grad school, Protein, Science
Tagged biology, chemicals, Everyday lab, grad school, in the lab, protein, proteomics, ramen, science
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….
When I started Grad School, two of my best undergraduate friends and plenty of acquaintances were already at the end of their first years of a PhD. I think just about everyone from my circle of friends who went directly to PhD without going via a Masters stayed at our alma mater (which, I suppose makes sense: somebody who already knows you and your work is more likely to take a chance on you, and somebody who has already found a lab they want to work in is more likely to take time out of studying for finals to apply). Continue reading
When I was in my teens, the thing that I loved more about science was the opportunity to learn something new every day. I loved that what I thought I knew was never exactly true, and hated it at the same time. I wanted to know what we’d be told in our GCSE classes, or our A-level classes, or our undergraduate lectures long before I was old enough for it to be on the syllabus. I had this idea that if I kept studying science for long enough, eventually it would make sense.
It will never make sense. Continue reading
Posted in Biology, Genetics, Grad school, In the lab, Science
Tagged biology, conference, data, depression, FAIL, grad school, in the lab, poster, qPCR, ramen, science, valley of shit