Do you know the feeling when you’re thinking ‘oh, August is so far away’ and then you realise it’s already August? This feeling hit me today. Maybe this is because this year’s scottish summer has been slightly underwhelming? There have been few warm and sunny days, and usually I ended up being so lucky I was always booked on the microscope until 9pm on these sparse nice days… typical. But it feels as if 2017 just started but many months have passed and things happened – lots of data collection, a two month stay abroad to learn a new technique at the LMU Munich, neuroscience day and my first ever talk at a scientific conference.
It’s hard to believe I’ve (almost) entered the third year of my PhD (well, I will in October anyway) – I still feel like I just started and know nothing. The third year prospect is luckily not as scary as it used to for me, since I will actually have two more years instead of only one. My supervisor recently received a grant for a project I will be carrying out starting from October, and this grant provides me with funding for a fourth year! It also means I am less stressed about preparing / writing my thesis (for now). I have, however, written an outline for my thesis with the chapters it will likely contain, and which experiments I have already done or will need to carry out in the future. I colour-coded the things that are done (green), halfway done (amber) or still to do (red) to give me a bit of an overview – and I have to say, I can definitely recommend doing that to every second year student entering third year! You will feel much more accomplished and finally realise you actually do know a lot about your project (so much green, when did this happen?).
The plan for now is to collect as much data as possible on my other projects and then start the RNA-sequencing project in October. If I’m honest, I’m a bit scared of it: I will need to collect a lot of material; I am not a particular fan of RNA work, being a more accomplished proteomics and DNA person (oh, I just look at the tube and the RNA degrades? great); and it will entail quite detailed bioinformatic analysis which I haven’t done since finishing my undergraduate degree. However, what would a PhD be without challenges? You need to rise to these in order to grow as a scientist. Furthermore, I will have a decent amount of time for this project and some time to follow it up – hopefully we will get some exciting data out of it! 🙂
Another thing I am happy about is that I was awarded a travel grant by the ENABLE Network for their conference in Barcelona in November. The title is “Breaking down complexity: innovative models and techniques in biomedicine” – I think my work studying neuroregeneration in zebrafish will fit in quite nicely. I think being awarded the travel grant also means I was also selected for a talk, but I will need to follow up on that. Either way, I am very excited to have received this travel grant – the conference looks great and it will be nice to escape rainy Edinburgh in November for a couple of days. 🙂
The final exciting thing I wanted to tell you about is that I am heading off to Iceland on thursday for my holidays. There are direct and fairly cheap flights to Reykjavik from Edinburgh, and I will be renting a car with a friend to explore this magical island. I will report more in my next post!