Category Archives: Personal

Independence and Feedback, a Short Reflection

I like to think that I’m pretty good at working independently. I don’t usually need much supervision or someone to tell me to get to work or what to do. I like figuring things out myself. I have no problem asking questions and look for help whenever I see that battling an issue any further by myself isn’t productive.

That is one of the reasons why I loved my last project I spent more than 3 years working on. It started as a summer internship to try to replicate some published results using a technique nobody at the lab tried before and quite different from what everyone was doing, thus, nobody really knew how to help me and I was pretty much left to figure it all out by myself. My supervisors weren’t the type who were breathing down my neck, it was closer to ‘my door is always open but I’m not often here’ type of supervision (they made up for it in other ways). Not that I was complaining. Although it could have been scary, the folks at the lab were very nice and always helpful – there was always someone with whom I could discuss things, show me how to do stuff and help me come up with practical solutions. I would mostly only go to my supervisors when I had some nice(ish) results to share and get a ‘good job’ from them.

However, after changing labs a few months ago, I’ve been feeling somewhat different. The style of supervision is pretty similar to what I’m used to and I still like it, but for some reason I’ve also been feeling in more need of encouragement than before. I don’t know exactly why but I’ve been feeling that I’m not working enough/getting enough results. I mean, part of the reason is, of course, that I have been somewhat relaxed compared to the time when Master’s deadlines were pushing me, but that was one intense year. For the rest of it, I really don’t know. I keep working and kind of hoping it passes, but for now I’m really grateful for unexpected positive feedback I get from time to time from my supervisors even when I haven’t presented any new data (a recent comment made me think and come up with this post).

Feeling rather introspective,

Noodle.

Cell Cultures and Me

I don’t know why but I’m always somewhat stressed when doing cell culture stuff. Like, I’m afraid to hurt the cells.

Also, I talk to the cells. Call them ‘my pretties’. Put them to sleep in the incubator, double checking that it’s closed properly and they have enough CO2 and it’s warm enough.

Gosh, I get so attached to my cell cultures. I wouldn’t be able to handle an actual pet, it’d be too intense.

Noodle.

P.S. Sigh, I so need to start thinking about these posts before Sunday rolls around.

This Week I’m a Wave

I’ve been feeling out of phase this week, you know, like a bunch of coherent waves, erm, losing the coherence, if that makes sense, sort of just bouncing and feeling uncomfortably pulled back and forth. I’ve been trying to be more productive and learn new things and stuff over the last few weeks and to that end, in addition to my own work, I’ve started helping out with some other stuff at the lab. This resulted in quite lot of dashing about and, while the new work is fun, I feel like I don’t actually accomplish that much more, maybe even less somehow.

I feel like I either need to plan my time for each project better or give up the extra project. It is fun, though, it’s so relaxing to sometimes just follow instructions instead of doing all the thinking. All the thinking is a lot of fun also though.

I feel very complicated right now,

Noodle.

Why am I doing this?

A short one to hopefully get back into action

Oops. I was determined to post every week, wasn’t I? But things happened, as they tend to do. And to be perfectly honest, my anxieties and seasonal affective disorder or something got the better of me this time. My thoughts were all a-jumble and just wouldn’t cooperate with being put down. Things are looking up, though, in more than one regard, so here I am.

During this time, I’ve been sort of rethinking doing this PhD thing. Maybe even entertaining a notion of moving back home. I mean, as much as I enjoy Sweden and this university, perhaps it’s not worth all the anxieties and stress – and I haven’t even started the actual PhD yet! Especially, since some place along the road I suddenly realised that an academic career might not be my ultimate dream any more. The more I learn about it, the more aspects of it reveal themselves that seem quite unappealing (or worse). Of course, it’s pretty much impossible to find a job which would be all rainbows and unicorns, but at some point the negative might outweigh the positive, and you start wondering why you dreamt about it in the first place.

But despite all this, I still want to do the PhD. I figure, there are other jobs/careers where you can do science-y things of different sorts and having a PhD comes in handy. Besides, I do love doing science and I want to help humanity’s progress, however small my contribution may be. So, I think, it’s reason enough to do it. I can figure the next step out later. And who knows, I might yet change my mind about sticking with academia, I mean, it is sort of nice here, after all.

But meanwhile, I also need to investigate what lies outside the ivory tower,

Noodle.

Bit of a Ramble

This post exists just because I’m determined to post every week.

I had a bit of a freak-out this week. Suddenly this whole PhD deal, which will involve doing my research on two different continents, seemed a crazy impossible idea. How am I ever going to do it?

But I’m going back to my little corner of nowhere right now for some collaborative work at my old lab and then Christmas. I’m thinking I’ll spend the short break writing up extensive pro-con/problem lists, which, I come to think of it, I should’ve probably done before I jumped at this opportunity. But then, I didn’t know half the cons at that point. In any case, I don’t think I’ll be backing out, but at least I’ll have a better conscious understanding of what I’m getting into it and discuss the potential problems with my supervisors.

Forgive the rambling little post, but at this point all I can think about is home,

Noodle.

A Passing Thought On Being Alone Abroad

When I started mentioning my plans for a PhD to people, the most prevalent response was that I should go for it, since I don’t have anything, or more accurately, a significant anyone, keeping me home. But that wasn’t entirely true. I have a few significant others. My best friends, my family (most of whom live in a different town, but they don’t feel far away). Not that it was anything I considered as a factor. I knew I wanted to get out of the middle of nowhere, no matter what.

However, now that I’ve been away from home for more than two months, I’m starting to think that there might be merit in not moving away alone. I mean, sure, there’s the trouble of two people looking for work and accommodation together, which is a pretty big trouble. But the trade-off is that you aren’t so alone. Not that I mind being alone, but alone in your home country is different from alone in a new country, especially then there’s no internet access at home (as is my case). Being a tad introverted I often find it difficult to talk to people I don’t know (well). I find myself wishing I had come with someone, or had a good friend around here (which right now I do, at least for a couple of weeks, yay).

Off to try and make some new friends,

Noodle.

P.S. How cool would it be if there was a spousal hire equivalent for friends?

Science Fiction and Scientific Minds

So, a few days ago, I had a conversation with a new friend who is also a scientist and happens to share my love/addiction to television. We talked about science fiction shows and, in particular, lack of good ones. And it made me think.

I think about science all day. Laws of nature. Will this work based on what we know? Does this make sense? How exactly does degraded material leave the body? Why does that reaction happen? Stuff like that. I love it. But after doing that for 8 or more hours, I just get tired of it. I want to forget about the limits of our reality and our knowledge. I imagine things. I like to let go and watch or read fiction – quite often it’s not science fiction, but this post mostly pertains to the latter. As my Dad (fan of hardcore science fiction) says, I just like to see what the human mind can come up with. While I appreciate when science knowledge is used and presented, you know, correctly, I’m (that’s me, not my Dad – I don’t know his exact opinion on the matter) also not bothered by stuff that is way out there. Weird new elements with fantastical properties discovered by random dudes in a random mine*. Complete surgical brain removal that doesn’t kill a person – or the brain – and then re-implantation of the said brain**. Mass spectrometry giving all the answers as though by the click of the fingers*** (OK, to be honest, this does bother me a little, but I concentrate on the cute technician and move on). Medicine (or poison) taking effect in the matter of seconds****. Or when one scientist knows everything***** (because, duh, don’t all scientists know everything there is to know? Or wish that we did at least, or is it just me?).

However, I sometimes encounter people (not necessarily scientists) who have a very low tolerance limit to these sort of liberties and disregard of the rules of the universe as we know them. And I wonder – does my, let’s call it, willingness to believe make me a bad scientist? Or, to put it in another way, does that mean I don’t really have a scientific mind? Whatever that is. Or – and this is what I like to think – does it mean that I am open to considering even the craziest possibilities and that’s actually a good thing? What is your opinion on the matter?

Wondering if I should be rethinking my career plans – not really, but also kind of yeah, though not for the above reason… or not just because of it,

Noodle.

*Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

**Star Trek: The Original Series at its craziest

***Most crime investigation shows

****Most medical shows

*****Almost any show with a scientist character