The first few days of Sept

I know, I know, I’m a terrible DAILY blogger. Life has been a little hectic since last Friday but I’ll do my best to catch you all up. In my defense Monday was a public (bank) holiday here in the UK so that’s one less day missed 😛 .

Friday was set aside for report writing, unfortunately for me the boss being back from his summer travels meant we restarted our Friday afternoon meetings – so that was 3 hours writing/editing time gone. What this meant was that, despite really not wanting to, I finished my report on Bank holiday Monday. I also ended up doing my journal club on Bank holiday Monday, Monday was definitely not the relaxing day off I would’ve loved it to be but it was entirely my own fault for not planning my work better last week.

Whenever I have formal reports to write it generates a lot of extra work from the boss, he identifies gaps he hasn’t otherwise seen or remembers long forgotten requests that have slipped through the net. Anyway the result of writing a report is always a huge increase in my workload.

So on to Tuesday (as Monday was a holiday).

Well it started early, I was on the 6:30am train, once again my own fault. I really wasn’t concentrating on that journal club paper on Monday night so I decided to cut my losses and get a decent(ish) amount of sleep, get up early and get to work for 7am. My theory was on Monday night I always knew I still had until 10am on Tuesday, whereas at 7am on Tuesday I knew I only had 3hrs. I knuckled down and got on with it. Overall I massively regretted my choice of paper and it was technically really difficult (the boss pointed this out to me on Monday which was, of course, really helpful to hear). Anyway I arrived at work with a decent understanding of the paper and what slides I needed to make so it was just a case of putting them together. I was done by about 9:15am so decided I’d earned myself a coffee before journal club began at 10am. It went quite well, people seemed interested in the paper and we had some good discussions. One person got completely the wrong end of the stick about how the technology works but eventually we seemed to overcome that hurdle (although it did take a while), and I’ve been commended a few times by academics and PhD students for choosing such a tough paper (silver linings right?). We were all wrapped up with journal club by 11am so I decided to dedicate a little time to the surviving your PhD MOOC run by thesis whisper (and friends). I missed the first live chat but managed to catch up later in the day. I gave myself a little bit of time before lunch to work through module one and did a little reading of the social media feed, so I’m now all set for module two 🙂 .

I had lunch about 12:30pm, it was quite quick but away from my desk so not too bad. I then spent the rest of the afternoon in the lab. I’m busy trying to make a new mutant (and I’d love to have it before the SGM competition later this month) but right now the PCR’s to construct the mutant are not playing fair. I’m literally have a case of 1+1=3 with the PCR fragment coming out larger than it should be able to! I managed to get a lovely band on my gel – it’s just not the right one. Oh well, I couldn’t linger on it much longer as I had PubhD Leicester to get to at 7:30pm. Time for some socialising 🙂 . For anyone who doesn’t know about PubhD the concept is simple, can you explain your PhD in the pub in exchange for a drink or two? I’m presenting in October (if you’re Leicester based here’s the link) to I went along to Sept’s event to get a feel for it. I met a friend there and also came across one or two other people I know. The talks were interesting and varied so now I need to get my thinking cap on for next month and my talk.

PubhD image borrowed from the PubhD Leicester faebook page (hope you guys don't mind, I'm using it for promo I promise :) )
PubhD image borrowed from the PubhD Leicester faebook page (hope you guys don’t mind, I’m using it for promo I promise 🙂 )

On to today, Wednesday:

Not quite such an early start today, instead I arrived at the lab at 8:30am. I started the day in the lab by running out a PCR on a gel so prove that once again 1+1=3… Hmmmm. Time to try a different approach. The problem with my protocol seems to be in stitching my different fragments together so I decided to try something called Gibson assembly. This acts as a step that will help stitch my pieces together so I have a single template to PCR from. However *sucks to be me* as one Gibson and another PCR later and I have gone from a band that was too big to a lack of any band. 😦 Tomorrow I’ll go back to step one and see where I get. Somehow I’m beginning to feel like this mutant won’t be done in time for my SGM presentation. My morning got away from me and somewhere in there I poured some plates, sent some genome files to a new Master’s student, and printed out some documents for a meeting this afternoon. At 12:45pm I had a rushed little lunch as I had a meeting at 1pm. I’m a member of our departments Athena Swan working group looking at equality in science. We had a lot to discuss so that lasted until about 2:30-45pm.

After the meeting I sat down and did some reading. That’s right READING! This month I have the SGM competition and will also meet with my thesis committee so I think it’s important to set aside some reading time this month. I have SMART goals relating to different things (some are small e.g. check the definition of this term are you using it correctly? Others are much bigger) so I’ll try to get a little done every day.

At 4pm I had a little time schedule with the boss to discuss ideas and challenges that came up from writing my second year report. My reading went down well but that obviously didn’t stop him adding more (difficult and time consuming) jobs to my to do list. I now need to get to grips with MATLAB (help!) so I think that’s where my focus will be for the next few days.

At 5pm it was Pilates time. I went and relaxed, temporarily getting rid of any MATLAB thoughts 🙂 . I popped back to the lab after Pilates at 6:30pm and plated some bugs for 2 different experiments tomorrow – more data I hope to have in time for the SGM later this month. I stayed until 7pm before heading off to get the train home.

My evening’s been spent watching Bake Off (for non-UK people, we British love to watch other people competitively bake cakes in a large tent, look it up I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do).

Until tomorrow everyone, as always thank you for reading (especially this beast of a post), it’s very appreciated and comments are always welcome 🙂

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