Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Out of the Dark Age

...or something.
My department is famous, unfortunately, for being rather male-dominated. Out of 30 full-time faculty, only one is a woman. There is hope however, in that the department is going on an all out hiring binge that will hopefully bring in more folks than old, white dudes (very Texas, no?).

But there is recent good news: that lone female professor (who is an amazing researcher and is highly respected in the field, chairs many committees both nationally and within the department and was president of the Geological Society of America in the 90's) has been named the new department chair. I think this move is important in encouraging talented women scientists to apply for positions within the department and shows dedication on the part of the higher-ups to highlighting 'diversity' as a priority.


For real, though

Ok. Some brilliant scientist really needs to do a study on how time flies!! This past month has been cr-azay.
I am an official PhD candidate! My qualifying exam was easily the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me in my life--when I left the room while my committee decided my fate I was pretty resigned to giving up on geophysics and becoming a yoga instructor, or working in a yarn store.
But somehow, they decided that I'm worthy and let me pass--without even any additional coursework--hell yeah! Though there were definitely things that I need to brush up on. (Since when can a geophysicist not draw a freakin' travel time curve?!? I don't know where my brain went on that one.)

I may do some further posts on the exam itself--but, who really wants to hear about that?

A new Scientiae Carnival is up. You can read the posts here.

I also want to than A+ and Lab Cat for their comments recently!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Next Time

There is this thing out there called "Scientiae Carnival." An online collection of essays/articles/musings by other women in science. This is the third such collection and a review of all the works is available here: Lab Cat.

Great reading from some brilliant women--maybe I'll be one of them next time.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Counting is Fun

20 days, 22 hours until my proposal defense/qualifying exam.

6 days, 22 hours until my written proposal is due.

3 brownies consumed by me last night.

45 minutes of running this morning, starting at 6:30 am (or so...:) ).

1 cup of coffee consumed this far.

9 American Idol contestants remaining.

You know, important stuff.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Geology Porn

You've heard of gay porn, girl porn, guy porn. There is even food porn, design porn and cute porn...

Why not geology porn? Seriously, aren't these some amazing pictures from a mine in Mexico? Crystals as big as a house ?!?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"No-Complaining Tuesday"

Welcome, friends, to the first of what may very well be a series of installments in which I attempt to focus on the many things which are right and good with my life as a grad student. Take note, however, that your intrepid writer is: 1) extremely flaky and 2) extremely busy. A character trait and mitigating circumstance that may render today's post the first in a series of, well, one.

First, I have two supervisors/comittee members who are REALLY looking out for me. True, they might casually pile on 20 hours worth of work at a moments notice, but it is for my own good. They don't want to see my choke at my qualifying exam which is less than a month away!!

Second, how cool is my future husband? The T-dawg has been busy transforming our yard into a garden, cooking me dinner, reminding me to not drink too much coffee in the afternoons and has just plain been believing in me.

Third, I am almost halfway finished with my dissertation proposal that is due in immaculate form two weeks from Thursday. And I can friggin see the light at the end of that tunnel! Sorta.

So, it's not all bad here in the Lone Star State.

Friday, March 9, 2007

dude, go for it

'You rise as high as your dominant aspiration,

You descend to the level of your lowest concept of yourself,

Free your mind,

And your ass will follow.'

-the one and only Funkadelic

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Outta my hands!

I sent off the manuscript yesterday, and, of course, I immediately started thinking of ways it could be better. Oh well, that's for the reviewers to decide.
In a way, I can't believe that I actually did it. Despite the hours of work, it almost feels like it wrote itself, in the sense that I pretty much had all the ideas--it was just soooo hard to start writing.

Next up is my disseration proposal, due in less than a month. I have at least started outlining that sucker and next week is spring break! (which means that I get to work uninteruptted for a whole week--isn't in funny how priorities change? I'm excited to work uninterupted for a week. That's why I'm excited for spring break. Yikes.)

Till next time, mucho amore.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

learning curve

So, back to my manuscript, my first 'science baby.' I've been making progress, but it's more of a treadmill, or a windy road, than a nice, easy path. Not that I really though this would be easy, per se. But I thought the process would be more linear.
It's like I can see where I need to be, and I know that I'll know when it's finished, but the finish line never gets closer and I just keep working and working. Or I'll tweak one aspect of an argument or description, but that means I have to go back and tweak something else, or add another figure, or look up another reference.
As frustrating as this all is, I'm trying to at least learn from the process and trust that it'll get easier--or, at least, that I'll get better at all this.

After all, that's what I'm here for.


Friday, February 23, 2007

more to life...

been in a hidey-hole working on a manuscript. Which is not to say that I haven't been procrastinating by lurking on some of my favorite sites. Like this one. Or this one. And I certainly haven't been logging hours here, oh no! another one!
And then, every once and again, I come accross a website that seems planted intentionally by the evil gods of procrastination and money-spending (can you think of two more mischeivious bedfellows) and I think I might die if I don't 'add to cart.' (Maybe death is a bit dramatic, but seriously, aren't these beautiful?)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

"Doing science"

Had lunch with a buddy today who is working on her Masters degree in geophysics. Being huge dorks that don't know what else to talk about, we inevitably discuss our research progress. My friend answers the "How's your research going?" question the same way every time: "It just doesn't really feel like I'm 'doing science.' "
Another friend here at the lab was just recently hired as a research scientist. It's her first research position after finishing her PhD and postdoc. Our conversations are eerily the same as the first, though, for this lady, her main obstacle is time: "I just don't have any time to 'do science' [with all the extra bureaucratic stuff that has to be done]. "
To me, the obvious question becomes: what is "science"? what does it mean to "do science"? Not that I'm at all qualified to answer that question, even if I were (is ANYone?), it is definitely out of the scope of this little blog. However, I can at least list some of the tasks I accomplished today--at the lab*-- and categorize them simply as "Science" or "Not Science". (pretty scientific, eh?)

1. Made a map for my supervisor's NSF proposal = Not really science
2. Messed up the map and did it again = Not really science, again
3. Messed up the map again and made a new one, again = NOT SCIENCE
4. Checked email = Not science
5. Found out Anna Nicole Smith died = Not science
6. Redid map, again = Not science
7. Blogged about 'doing science' = Kinda 'meta', not science

*Even though going for a run and showering (if you saw my tub, you might be tempted to call THAT science) are excellent accomplishments they do not qualifiy for this informal study because they were not accomplished in an environment dedicated to the create science, or some other such bullshit.

Preliminary results: not doing much science today.
What about you all? Any science happening in your world?

Monday, January 22, 2007

I picked up this little nugget of news while working in west Texas last week:
The professors that I discussed in the last post had written letters of recommendation for a brilliant student of theirs who is applying to PhD programs. The student already has guaranteed full-funding from an external institution, has great grades, an established research record and a very clear idea of what he wants to do in his research. This guy should pretty much be a lock for any place he applies to: a brilliant, highly motivated, FREE student.
The only problem, apparently, is that he is of Persian descent and has a traditional Persian first name and surname.....
One of his top choice schools (an institution that will go un-named on this blog, but, suffice it to say that what hapened is not a HUGE surprise considering the school's reputation) sent the student a rejection letter BEFORE receiving transcripts and letters of recommendation. Either he said something extremely offensive in his statement of research interests or his name was offensive enough for this particular university. Arrgh.

Inspiring Scientists in Service to Society

I spent last week doing some research at another university here in Texas. The scientists I was working with are both amazingly active in education, outreach and promoting minorities in research and the sciences. As such, they are dedicated to helping their former students in thier future careers and write many letters of recommendation for students going on to grad schools and jobs in the private sector.
All of the above is not necessarily new or surprising--it's part of a professor's job description--but it was so inspiring to see how they, a husband and wife team, put their beliefs and passions into actions. The have successfully created a working model for exciting inner-city youth and minorities about science and geosciences. For instance, in their former home in New Orleans, they partnered with their university to begin a project searching for illegal slave graveyards using shallow geophysical techniques. Such an amazing example of how science can be made accessible and interesting to a population that is so often overlooked.
In their new home in west Texas, they are teaming with local high school students and undergraduates to search for tunnels dug by Mexican immigrants under fences and rivers along the US-Mexican border.
I think the most inspiring aspect of these projects is not only getting young people and underserved minorities interested in geosciences and sciences in general, but introducing future scienctists to the importance of using techinical expertise and scientific knowledge in order to serve society.....definitely ideas to carry with me as I build my own research career.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

One for the money

Greetings internet surfers and procrastinators at large-
This is a blog about navigating the in's and out's of graduate school--more specifically: the in's and out's of being a female PhD student in a typically male-dominated field (geosciences). I plan to use this blog to record my experiences throughout the entire process of receiving my PhD degree:
writing publications, taking those dreaded qualifying exams (mine are in April (gasp!!)), generally getting people to take me seriously as a scientist, entering the competitive world of academic job searches, my life as a grad student in general, etc.

I hope to (maybe) inspire fellow aspiring scientists, at least by reassuring some folks that if I can do it (and I hope I can!) they can do it; create a broader network of women and minorities (and those white boys interested in diversity issues) in the sciences; make myself practice my writing; and generally create another way for me to put off the things that I am supposed to be doing in order to post them. (I think therein lies the primary contradiction in starting a blog of this nature...but, I'm a young, female geophysicist with tatoos, so, eff it, I'm learning to embrace those contradictions).

So, thanks for being willing to begin the journey of acheiving official "Pretty huge Dork" status with me, cuz we all know what "PhD" really stands for...