It was a very grey and rainy day here in Edinburgh. And just my luck, I left the key to my filing cabinet (that my precious hard drive was locked in) in my flat this morning, so I had to trek back through the Meadows to get it…
The 8-month report is the second important milestone of a PhD in Biomedical Science after the 10-week report which I discussed in my November blog post (Journal Club, 10-Week Report and Experiments… Oh My!). You are not a full-fledged PhD student until you have submitted your report and had a follow-up meeting with your PhD committee (supervisors and chair). This report is just an exercise to ensure that you know where your project is heading and you understand what you have done and what you intend to do. It is also used for you to highlight any difficulties that you are facing in the lab, for instance: you cannot get your antibody to stain what it should be, your calcium reporter is saturating or your agar plates are always contaminated… This exercise allows you to step back and look at all the research that you have conducted to date. If all goes well and your committee thinks that you have done a sufficient amount of work in 8 months and thinks that you can handle the PhD lifestyle (because, let’s face it, it is a lifestyle and it isn’t for everyone) you can graduate to a PhD student and not just a “postgrad”. If, on the other hand, your committee doesn’t think that you have what it takes to continue doing your research for 2-3 more years, you get the option to write up an MSc dissertation and you can be on your merry way. As I already have an MSc, I am hoping for the former! My supervisor assures me that I have more then enough results. That isn’t the part that worries me, it is the writing of the report that I should start soon. It is due June 26th.
In 2 weeks, I have imaged over 100 coverslips. This may seem quite banal but if you consider that I am doing a 10-minute timelapse for each coverslip, my imaging seems a lot more impressive still. And even more impressive than that is that I have managed to stay on top of my analysis and have analysed 80% of my results. I have been doing analysis rather than writing my report. It is what I call productive procrastination. I have also autoclaved everything in our lab. I even cleaned my flat top to bottom. Twice. I tend to be very good at productive procrastination. During my undergrad, I once re-grouted our bathroom floor instead of studying for my neurobiology final.
And, if you hadn’t guessed, writing this blog post is also productive procrastination!