Friday, January 13, 2012

PhD Journey:The first three months


So it's been three months since I embarked on my journey to the west (no, not that Chinese TV show). I thought I'd share my experience so far.

1. I get a lot of 'Don't you have class today?' from people. No, I don't have classes at all. However it varies for people from different field. My friend doing PhD in Business has to attend classes like undergrads and she has assignments too! I go to my lab/office on a daily basis to do my lab work or on some days, I just go to read journals, plan future experiments and go on Facebook. I try to come 9-5 everyday, just like an average working person. PhD students share a room, have their own desks and like my school, they provide laptops to us students. This, again, varies from school to school. Ada yang dapat bilik sendiri, ada yang dapat desktop but not laptop.

2. No more assignments, and the best of all, no more exams yo!! Occasionally I have to do presentations and once a year, there'll be assessment to see if I could proceed to the next year of research. 

3. For these first three months, I started doing some small assays/experiments in the lab. Most of the time it's optimization experiments, where I optimize conditions for my experiment before I do the actual one. Agak-agak boleh faham tak? Huhu. For example, now I'm working with T-lymphocytes, so I optimized my Western Blot conditions i.e. how many cells to put in each lane to get a good visible band, transfer time, blocking time yada yada yada. Maaf orang luar bidang sains, harap boleh faham ye.

4. Here comes the not-so-interesting part - literature review! It's endless I tell you. When you read one journal article, it leads you to the next one, then the next one, then the next one it takes forever. One day you read about one particular topic, and suddenly while reading an article, you get a Eureka! moment and the next thing you know, you are on Google Scholar looking for another paper from a different topic. Well that's part of learning. You have to do a lot of reading in scientific research. Nak tahu background pasal your project, then nak tahu methods apa orang pakai, nak cari ways to improve the methods and the list goes on and on. My project revolves on these three things - T-lymphocytes, monoclonal antibodies, and glycolipid. Immunology kahwin dengan Biochemistry. Baru dua discipline dah berjuta nak kena baca, macam manalah orang yang buat multidisciplines tu.

5. Also, since I'm not super busy, I chose to attend as many short courses as possible. These short courses are organized either by the Graduate School or the library. So far I've attended Endnote course, some Microsoft Office courses, and some research methods courses. There are so many to choose from: statistics, presentation skills, academic writing skills, lab safety, language skills (they even have pronunciation class) etc. Some courses are pretty basic, like some of the Office courses I attended. However, I picked up some little tricks that I have never known before, like how to 'Enter' in the same cell for Microsoft Excel (LOL). My ex-boss is a Microsoft Office 'guru'. Man, that guy is like an Office expert. Serba tahu pasal features in Word and Excel. Sebab tu lah jugak I attend all these courses, I wanna be a 'guru' like him. Hehe.

I guess that's all for now. Now I'm entering my fourth month (ceh macam pregnant pulak, now entering second trimester haha), I need to be more proactive in terms of my lab work, have to plan and execute the plan, get all the small questions answered that'll eventually lead me to answer bigger questions. 

My first year assessment will be in June, hopefully everything will go smooth and silky

Permudahkanlah, Ya Allah!


sKiRafaRgEek said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

good luck kak dila!praying the best for you...ameen..kak dila nanti share la mcamna start apply phD program segala tue ea..=)sbb, rasa mcm blurr apa nk buat after grad nie..nk smbung blaja tapi still blurr2 apa nk kene buat..

aisyah said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

that's good, dila! give us more tips on phd please, hehe