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I think a lot about what it is to be a woman in science, but I have the inherent privilege that comes with being a white woman to shield me from the worst of it. I had an absolutely eye opening conversation with classmate of mine last year, and I’d like to share it with y’all.

This other lab member of mine became a great friend of mine around the time I decided to switch labs. She had a different PI and was a year ahead of me, so I was comfortable bringing my concerns to her. Her support was instrumental in my decision and my current happiness in my new lab. She presented in a lab meeting the day I went to the director of our grad school and requested a change in PIs, so I missed it. I knew she had been nervous (it was meant to prepare her for for her preliminary exam) so I asked her the next day how it had gone.

Now. To put this in context, I need to explain my old PI. He was an almost eighty year old white man, and if it wasn’t his opinion, it was wrong. He was very, very bad at being a PI. He was also probably worse at being a co-worker. I recall at least three lab meetings that devolved into him yelling with another PI, and several student presentations that he was terribly mean and unnecessarily fixated on insignificant details. So it comes as no shock that he went after my friend.

My old PI (who was not involved in bacteria research AT ALL) had taken some issue with the strain of bacteria she was using, one that was selected based on clinical relevancy. This had resulted in a dissolving of my friends presentation into him interrogating her about this strain, interrupting her explanations and generally getting louder and louder and louder until her PI stepped in. Upon hearing all of this, I apologized profusely for his behavior and asked how she was doing now. She expressed to me how she had struggled to remain calm, and how she was ultimately grateful to her PI for de-escalating the situation.

Now here’s the part that hit me hard: my friend explained to me that she was grateful mostly because she wasn’t sure how much longer she would have been able to withstand his nonsense without raising her voice, to which I responded, “he would have deserved it. You were right and he was wrong, and it’s beyond time he was put in his place. He’s not your PI, and he’s not on your committee, so I think you would have been wholly justified in standing up for yourself.”

“If I’d had raised my voice at him, even a little, I would have been labeled an angry black woman, and everyone in that room would have written me off as a stereotype of my race.”

Oh. Ohhhhh. OH that hit me in the heart and the brain and the soul and I’m shocked I didn’t get a bruise. My sweet, strong, smart friend, who was a mom and a wife and a brilliant student and a kind soul, had to weigh every word out of her mouth with a gravity I couldn’t understand, and had never considered until that moment. And it probably says a lot about my white privilege and my bubble I’ve grown up in that I was 24 years old before this came across to me. But this conversation has lived in my head ever since, and my perspective of the world shifted because of it. I think what made this particular incidence so eye opening to me was that being interrogated by this man over stupid details was something that happened to me regularly, and had just pushed me over the edge. Realizing some level of privilege had protected me all along from it being worse was enlightening.

I’ve benefitted my whole life from white privilege (a thing my family doesn’t think exists). I’m nowhere near perfect as an ally or a friend or a person, but I want to be better at standing up for and alongside those who need the protection my privilege offers. I share this now in case it resonates with someone else the way it did with me.

Black lives matter. Black people matter. Your hearts matter and your ideas matter and your feelings and your dignity and hurt and anger and fear. It shouldn’t require stating but it does, and I am so so sorry for your pain, for every situation I wouldn’t think twice in that you have to navigate carefully. I’m sorry, and I stand with you.

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03.06.2020/Wednesday

I did it!!! Finished the first three chapters of my thesis and send it off to my supervisors. Worked until 10pm but Got. It. Done. 🙌🏻

Now to take an easy morning before diving in to Monday’s deadline 😂

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june study challenge (2/30) - class notes

Continue reviewing AP Statistics. Found out that I absolutely forgot all the rules of probability. Ashamed and disgraced. Meh.

And I need to do something with my hands, my wrists are a bit damaged and I can no longer write for hours. Trying to do some exercises to alleviate the pain.

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Tuesday 2nd June

So despite everything that’s happening in this batshit crazy world, I still have my candidacy exam to prepare for so I just have to put on my noise cancelling headphones and ignore the sirens and helicopters, as much as I would like to contribute. So I’m doing my bit and have my ipad watching the various “stream to donate” videos out there that are raising money to help deal with all this craziness. It’s the absolute least I could do, I know, and I encourage all of you to do what you can to support the protests. here’s the link to the stream to donate youtube video I’ve been watching- if you also have to study or work, I really recommend putting this on in the background, it’s a painless way to help out. 

I wish y’all the best, and I hope that we can make the world a better place ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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Perseverance has paid off despite many many moments of self-doubt.

I may have an official PGR blog post published via an academic institution by the end of the month! 

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I have had a good day today.

Having your work peer reviewed by a fellow student and doing the same for them is such a good way to keep academic discourse happening while also having a well needed catch up. We’ve given each other some things to work with and extending our work from around 500-700 words to 1,500 words and doing the peer review again next week.

Also, I approached a university yesterday to be involved with their UK wide PGR research blog and they came back saying they would be happy for me to be involved. I am excited to get my research out to a wider audience that isn’t my immediate academic group but I am also a little apprehensive as I have no idea how to summarise my work in 500 words.

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Anyone using the Pomodoro technique for advice? Does it work and what apps would you recommend (free apps just in case I don’t like it)?

As I am getting more and more done with my project and have started to figuratively put pen to paper, I need to be a little more strict with how I use my time and what better time to experiment with different working styles than when I am home for the foreseeable.

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29.05.2020/Friday

Another productive day (repeat: not all my days will be productive and that’s okay) where I finished a thesis chapter draft and recorded a presentation for an e-conference. It was also HOT (25C?) and I worked in the hammock outside and got a little sunburn 🥵

Eating wise everything healthy went out the window when the boy came home in the afternoon with a dozen donuts 😂 apparently the drive through opened back up!! Lol all good though.

After work we had a couple FRIENDS over (who live together so we can socialize according to Scotland’s phase 1 guidelines). We drank gin outdoors and the boy cooked food and it was amazing to see other faces and catch up. I’m less socially awkward than I thought I would be, though definitely not back to normal. Haha.

That last pic occurred while washing dishes and I just thought the soap bubbles were so beautiful 😍

Today I’ve woken with a headache probably from my shoulder and not the whopping two g&t’s I had last night. So it’s coffee and ibuprofen and donut time, then I’ll clean the house and work. Hip and shoulder are still hurting so I’ll do physio and maybeee go on a short cycle if feeling up to it. xx

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30/May/2020 - Saturday morning

Hello my loves,

I wanted to write a long blog post but when I looked at the pictures that I didn’t take this week I realised that it would be boring. I still want to share some bits and bobs.

Keep reading

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Dear Diary, 

At some point, my advisor became my adversary. He used to work with me. He used to be my co-conspirator. He’d get excited when I was excited, and when out of his way to share things with me that were interesting. Now, he seems to take issue with everything I do. I don’t know when or how it happened, or even if it was my fault or not. But today I realized that I desperately want things to go back to the way they were, and that’s probably not going to happen. The sooner I give up and move on, the better. 

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05|27|2020 Took a break in between meetings and writing to go for a walk. The weather has been so beautiful lately! Made decent progress on my to-do list. I took some time to catch up with two close friends of mine whom I have not spoken to in a while. Having good work-life balance is really important for my mental health. Now it’s time to continue working again. My goal is to get as much as I can done by Friday. Typically I go food shopping on Saturdays but I want to stay home and watch the NASA / SpaceX launch! So I plan to go food shopping on Friday instead. 

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Wednesday 27th May

After taking a rather lovely 3-day weekend, I’ve been back at work today and yesterday. Yesterday was so-la-la, and today is fine, I guess. I’m struggling a bit with being super tired first thing and having difficulties getting into work- my solution to that is to work for like half an hour while drinking tea then taking a 20 minute or so nap and then getting back to work once the caffeine hits. It’s working, but kind of a strange way to get work done, especially for me. I usually find that it’s easier to get like 3 hours of work done as soon as I sit down in the morning, but not lately. 🙁

Ah well. I’ve had a pretty productive day so far-the not-horribly-rough draft of my candidacy proposal is done, 3 weeks before my oral, which is nice. I have to make some refinements on it, of course, but the vast majority of it is there. I’ve also been working on the slides for my presentation, which is definitely coming less easily than writing the proposal, unfortunately. But what I find has really helped is choosing a short section that I want to work on and just talking out loud to myself and giving a little presentation of what I want to say there to help me figure out what to put on the slides and what order to present it in. I just have to keep plugging away at this and get it done!! Persistence, grit, etc etc ✌️

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