Mission: Survive second year. Complete

It has been almost one year since my last blog post … which gives you insight into how the second year of my PhD (and life in general) has been: BUSY.

I’m not a fan of long blog posts so I will try to summarise the last year as best as possible …

I guess that’s why they call them the (second year) blues …

So the beginning of 2nd year started out pretty rocky with erratic thermostats almost destroying everything (I’m not even exaggerating). I won’t dwell on the details because its all sorted now but that is definitely one of the hardest things to cope with in scientific research … the fact that some things are completely out of your control. During this period, which can only be described as a “shitemare”, I learned that sometimes you just need to take a moment, walk away from the lab (potentially have a 5 minute tactical cry) and talk to your supervisor. Talking to your supervisor is so important. She rationalised everything that I thought was an absolute disaster and showed me that things aren’t actually that bad. And, lets face it, if things really are bad, you wanna let your supervisor know …

California dreamin’

One highlight of second year was getting the opportunity to head out to LA for a month to work with Dr Patrick Ferree in Claremont Colleges. It was nice to have a change of environment (ALL THE SUNSHINE!) and see how other labs work. The department in Edinburgh is big with lots of people and always busy but in Claremont, the lab group is small and everything is contained within one space. I also got to spend sometime outdoors looking for mealybugs on the numerous citrus trees, which, in the Californian sunshine, is not a bad deal.

I also just found out that I got some more funding to return to California in February for fieldwork with Isabelle Vea, who is joining our lab as a Post-Doc at the beginning of next year. We are going to travel up the Californian Coast looking for different species of mealybugs! It will definitely be nice to escape Edinburgh’s winter time and I look forward to seeing my Claremont friends again.

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Claremont Campus, May 2016

Sicily Scale Shenanigans

In June, I got to visit Catania, Sicily with Andrés to attend the unfortunately acronym-ed ISSIS 2016 (International Symposium on Scale Insect Studies). We both presented talks on the first day and had time to explore Mt Etna and surrounding city. The food was amazing! Probably the best food I’ve had in any country I’ve visited. I also managed to get some interesting bug bites that I will not post pictures of …

It was interesting to present my research to an audience made up mostly of researchers who would describe themselves as entomologists rather than geneticists. It really gave me a different perspective. Also, it was nice to go to a conference where no one talks about Drosophila … (I kid, Drosophila are awesome. I’m just jealous of those wonderfully annotated genomes!).

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“Scientists” ISSIS 2016.

BioPOD

I’ve always enjoyed science communication and love working with the BioPOD team at Edinburgh University (http://www.ed.ac.uk/biology/news-events/biopod). This year the team won the University of Edinburgh’s Recognising Excellence Award for Public Engagement! This definitely encouraged us to push forward with releasing more episodes and we are also organising a special live event later this year …

 

Those are some brief highlights, lowlights and average-lights from my second year experience. Overall, its been pretty eventful both at work and personally but I definitely tried to learn from every experience I’ve had… especially the bad ones!  Second year was rounded off with a weekend away in Cullen with friends from the department. I think it was good for everyone to be pried away from the labs/desks of Ashworth and just have fun by the seaside!

 

Till next time …

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We survived another year of research with only mild signs of mental exhaustion …
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