PhD Candidate!

After doing my qualifier presentation back in May, I discovered there was another step before I could become a PhD Candidate.

The proposal presentation is supposed to demonstrate to the committee that my research is going on the right track and I’m actually capable of doing the work. Mine took the form of an NIH format grant proposal and a presentation to my committee.

Today I gave my presentation, and my committee saw fit to pass me, so now I can call myself a PhD Candidate!

This is good…I think.

Now the rest of the work begins.

Almost PhD Candidate!

After four months of reviewing and studying the literature, writing, and reviewing lecture notes, I made it past my PhD qualifier exam! Now I can call myself almost a PhD candidate!

Taking the weekend off to take a bit of a break and get caught up on some computer maintenance tasks (swapping out some dying hard drives), and then back to work on the research.

Next step will be to figure out what software I want to use for my Monte Carlo simulations, plan out the simulations I want to run, and what data I need to collect.

Dipping my toes into org-mode

I’ve taken one of the older but still very capable laptops in my collection and put it to use as my “school” computer.  The goal is to have something I can lug around and use for research, number crunching, and my research notebook.  Then I don’t have to worry about trying to keep all that stuff in sync if I were to use my work and home desktop computers.

My handwriting can get pretty messy, and even I have a hard time reading my own handwriting sometimes.  I decided I wanted to do some kind of electronic lab notebook to keep my research notes, data, bibliography, and whatnot. 

I’ve been making an effort to spend more time in Emacs, and I have a few developer friends who rave about org-mode, so it seemed like a promising choice.

A quick Google search returned a few blog posts by people who are already using org-mode for research lab notes and writing papers and other research related tasks.  Plenty of prior work out there to learn from as I develop my own workflow.

Back on the PhD wagon

Learned earlier this week that my application to be readmitted to the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering PhD program was approved, so I’ll be a student again starting with the Spring 2019 semester.

Fortunately, I won’t have to take anymore courses. Just need to figure out the research project(s), do the research, and then write everything up.

Easy peasy, right?

The semester starts January 9, so I get to be a student for my birthday.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time…”

– Me, 2009.  Me again, 2018
PhD Comics: Raiders of the Lost Dissertation  by Jorge Cham
PhD Comics: Raiders of the Lost Dissertation

PhD take 2?

After having to end my attempt at a PhD with the MUSC/Clemson Bioengineering program five years ago, my Clemson supervisor asked me if I’d be interested in going back to finish it.  It was unexpected and took me a bit by surprise.

Going into the third year of the program, work demands had reached the point where I could either continue to get all the testing done in a timely fashion and let the research drag along, or continue with the research and end up getting behind on the equipment testing and all the other work.  Getting behind on the testing would get me and the hospital in trouble with state regulators, so I decided I needed to shelve my PhD ambitions for the time being.

With all of the required course work behind me (I think), my former supervisor seems to think that with a good project I could get the research  and thesis finished in about a year and a half.  I still have to get past the qualifier, though.

So far everybody seems to think it’s a good idea and that I should do it.

As I found out last time, this is a big undertaking that I’m not sure I can find the time for.  Work demands have only gone up over the past five years, and with three new MUSC centers opening up next year they’re going to go up even more.

I probably wouldn’t even be considering the possibility of going back to the PhD if it wasn’t for Connie throwing her support behind me.  Taking on a PhD is basically the same as another full time job (at least), and without her being willing to pick up the things I won’t be able to do once I’m started, restarting the PhD would definitely be a no.

It’s a big decision to make, and there is a lot to think about.