Archive for the ‘bitching’ Category

In case I have readers who I don’t know in real life and are not on twitter, I have news: I got into the physiology grad program that I wanted.

Unlike some of the braver bloggers I read, I didn’t feel up to blogging about the application process because I was convinced I would get rejected from everywhere. Some of my reasons were irrational and some were rational (I was just making the grade cut-offs for the programs I applied to), but apparently none were justified. I’m still surprised that someone (aside from me) think that I have what it takes to succeed in grad school.

So that leaves me with a week of school, one exam, and a summer before I begin my MSc and i’ve got some things on my mind. I hope you don’t mind me unloading in the form of a list.

  1. I’ve run out of motivation for school work despite still having my senior thesis, two essays for a social science course, a review for my seminar course, and an exam. Seriously how the fuck am I supposed to get myself to do this crap?
  2. I’ve been having a minor argument with a friend who is also heading for grad school over the way I went about choosing a potential lab. He seems to think that I should have focused more on whether they use the shiny-est, newest, most awesomely over-hyped techniques rather than finding a lab that works on stuff that I’m interested in. Dude has been going on about which schools have X-equipment and which ones have Y-equipment and why he totally wants to go somewhere with Y available. I am so fucking tired of hearing about this. He also seemed surprised at how much emphasis* I put of the social environment of a potential lab. Can’t wait to see that come back to bite him in the ass.
  3. I need to figure out what I’m doing this summer. I have three options:
    • I can start working in my future supervisor’s lab over the summer. Pro: I get a head start on my project. Con: I lose my last real summer vacation.
    • I can try and find another lab to work for over the summer. Pro: Learn stuff that I might not get a chance to later. Con: I lose my last real summer vacation. Also, Lab Tech in current lab has been hinting that she wants me to stay for the summer and I’m not sure staying** will be good for my mental health.
    • Find biology-unrelated job that pays well. Pro: I will actually feel like I had a summer vacation. Con: No science. Plus, the “pays well” part is probably a pipe-dream.

* That is, more than zero.

** More on this later.


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Lessons learned from mistakes have always stuck around in my memories the longest. A lot have been mistakes I made, but seeing other people screw up is also a great source “what not to do”s. This is especially true when you have to work with the results of the fuck-ups.

I spent most of my summer at Research Organization trying to clean up the ugliest database ever because the person who made it was really, really incompetent (Seriously guys, if you’re collecting data electronically you should never, ever let people enter whatever they want. Even [Especially?] if said people have an MD). I managed to clean it up well enough that we’ve already got 2 abstracts accepted for a meeting and there was talk of writing a manuscript. Along with these easily quantifiable achievement I also learned a lot of shit. I learned how to work with a particular statistical package that isn’t SPSS, ethical data cleaning, and how to politely tell people that they’re fucking nuts. However, the things I will remember forever and will hopefully never repeat in my own work include “Why yes, enter whatever you wish for the units” and “Hmm…contradictory information, nobody would ever enter that so why should we create measures against it?”.

Over the break, I started and almost finished making data entry forms for a different study. They’re nice, shiny and they are made to be as idiot proof as possible. But again other people screwing up is fucking with my work. This time it’s not the kind of mistake that leaves me with lots of interesting work and amused frustration at incompetent people, it’s the kind of fuck up that will most likely render 3 weeks of work a complete waste of time.

The gist of the problem: pretty science isn’t always practical science.

The study is a clinical trial looking at a novel use for a very common medication. The scientific justification is so simple and sensible that even a person with just a little background on the disease (me) can understand it easily. The study is also well designed for the most part. However, the problem is that the protocol requires a super strict time frame that allows for very little time between an occurrence of the medical event in question and seeing a specialist. This makes some sense as it would make the science better. However, the time frame is so ridiculously ludicrous that at the rate the PI is enrolling patients we’re probably going to have a case study rather than a clinical trial.

God, I hope that if (when?) I ever have to plan studies or even simple projects I’ll have the foresight to be able to tell when my plans are fucking impossible.

P.S. If none if this makes sense or follows a logical progression, I blame anger and Jagermeister.

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