Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday photo

I think I am definitely showing now. So that when people around campus congratulate me I am never quite sure whether it is for the defense or for my belly.

Coming in the next few days: fossil fun, women in science update(s)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

beginning the transition

Today is my first day back in the office since I defended. My mom and I had a wonderful trip, and then yesterday I gave an invited talk in NUT (neighboring university town). Today, though, I am at my computer making some progress on my revisions.

So what's changed in the past week?
  • I've gotten a bit tired of my mom calling me "Dr. Sciencewoman." Damnit, I'm just sciencewoman, same as I've always been.
  • At my talk yesterday I got to introduce myself as a post-doctoral researcher who did her PhD work on the subject at hand. Note the past tense.
  • Just now, a senior researcher stopped by my office to chat about some topics related to my research and a question he asked at my defense. But it wasn't a "you should do this" sort of chat, just very collegial.
  • As I listened to talks about my field area yesterday, I thought they were interesting but I didn't feel the need to passionately memorize every detail for future recall. I can already feel myself growing more detached from the place and the topic.
  • I got asked to be an invited speaker for a forum in April, and I honestly don't know which topic they want me to talk about. Also, my name was suggested by someone who works in a distantly related field but with whom I have enjoyed several river trips. I guess that's the power of networking.
  • I feel differently about the work that remains to be done on my diss. Not as if it were a crushing weight of impending doom but rather some minor annoyances - like a fly buzzing around my head. This is a definite improvement over a month ago.
  • But most of all, I'm looking forward to turning in my dissertation next week and then being able to more fully make the transition to the post-PhD life... being able to reorganize my desk and filing system, being able to take some projects off the back burner, without feeling the pressure of impending deadlines.
I think it's going to take a fair bit of time to complete the physical, mental, and emotional transition from pre-doc to post-doc. Maybe it'll be harder because I am not physically moving anywhere, but maybe it'll be easier because my life will be changing completely in 4 months. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dr. ScienceWoman

Yes, I passed and I have been enjoying the past day or so just doing some relaxing, hanging out with my mom, and some baby gear shopping. Grandma bought one of these baby carriers with a cranberry outside and an insects interior (so cute) for Mini and her parents. We are also looking at rocking chairs some more today.

Now that the important stuff is out of the's how the defense went down. It was at 8 am to facilitate the participation of a trans-atlantic committee member. He called in ~7:30 and got on speakerphone. The camera crew showed up and got the lighting set up and me wired with a mic (I am so not kidding) and the caterers showed up with bagels and coffee. The room filled up with people, we pulled out more chairs, more people showed up. Finally, my husband and mom made it (mom got lost in the building). More people showed up and started leaning against the walls. About 8:10 my advisor and I met at the front of the room and decided to get started. I sensed that someone important was missing, did a quick head count of my committee members, and discovered that my co-advisor was nowhere to be found. We called his cell phone, his office phone, his home phone, his wife's cell phone...then the departmental secretary to find out what the protocol was. She needed to call the grad school to find out. In the meantime, the rest of my committee members decided to go ahead and have me start, since there was no way to reschedule. I started my talk about 8:25, co-advisor showed up about 8:40, my talk went to 9:05 - I answered a bunch of good questions from the audience. We shooed out the audience (40+ people) and camera crew. Co-advisor's wife showed up with flowers to apologize (he had written the time down wrong). Then my committee and I gathered around a conference table and they asked me questions for the next 2.5 hours. (which seemed rather unnessecarily long) Most of the questions were reasonable - either expected based on themes from my prelims or the special interests of the committee members - but that doesn't mean they were all easy to answer. Towards the end, my co-advisor asked a particularly ridiculous question and I got a little punchy - just answering "I don't know." 2.5 hours earlier I might have tried to come up with answer but by this point I was hungry (almost noon) and tired. Fortunately, questioning concluded with my advisor asking me to read aloud from the introduction of my dissertation. Turns out I had made a rather Freudian slip in my writing, substituting "seduction" for a word rather more appropriate to my field. So questioning ended in laughter all around, they sent me out to my anxious mom and friend S. 10 minutes later my advisor came out, congratulated me, etc.

I have some revisions to do. Some of them are going to require some substantial work (lit review) and not mere typographical error correction. But they've given me an incentive to do it, because my advisor and co-advsior want to nominate to my dissertation for a national award. But I kind of wish it was all over.

And it is for the next few days. Mom and I are hanging out in town today - clothes to wash, applesauce to bake, etc. And then tomorrow we are heading to eastern Oregon to go fossil hunting.

I'll be back on-line more regularly starting next Wednesday. I'll probably never catch up on bloglines, so I hope you all are having a good week, and thanks for all your thoughts going my direction.

Monday, September 18, 2006

posting will be sporadic

I've got a lot going on these next few days and my mom arrives tonight for a week-and-a-half-visit, so posting will be sporadic until 27th.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 15, 2006

the key to productivity having all the blogger bloglines feeds not work and then accidentally closing your email for several hours.

Of course, now my email is back open and I am dealing with the inundation that occurred in the meantime. And, eventually, the feeds will start working again and I will have all of your posts to catch up on.

But in the meantime, I outline my defense talk for my advisor, started working on a revised figure, bought a CD on ebay, added movies to my blockbuster cue, and contemplated whether it would be warmer at home on this cold rainy afternoon.

I guess those last things aren't strictly productive, though, are they?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

unfinished thoughts

Over the past couple of weeks, a number of people have had very stimulating posts that I wanted/intended to respond to more fully, but I never managed to find the time or coherence.

But they are great posts, and you should go read them.

Trillwing wrote about anonymous academics, history bloggers, and blogs as salons.

Female Science Professor wrote about self-identifying as women vs. girls.

Here's today's PSA brought to you by nuthatch: Flying carp must be stopped. I'm serious.

And, a bit of a warning for all of us thinking about turning to science writing (via No Se Nada).


businessman shall be known as my fabulous, incredible, superhuman husband.*

Happy Anniversary, honey. I love you.

*Highly likely shortened to fish.

Should I? Would you? (allow ads)

Currently, you are viewing an ad free blog. But if I take the offer I got over email today there would be an ad somewhere on this page.

"I currently work at [a british insurance company] in the marketing team, and I am constantly looking at ways to divert traffic through to our websites. I was wondering if you would be willing to have a text link to one of our sites from your blog page on the side menu. This would not require any images or banners, and would be just text. Please let me know if this would be possible, as we would be willing to pay $30 for this.
Marketing Assistant
An English Insurance Company"

I could use the cash to buy businessman a nicer birthday present. But it seems kind of random. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

wow busy

As things are wont to do when my advisor is around, the past couple of days have been a whirlwind. I've got an almost completed longer post but I just thought I'd drop a separate to note to say that I'm feeling in less of a transitional funk than last week, having fun with a few day work-related distraction, and that our OB said this morning that everything looked great on the ultrasound and that I am measuring right on schedule.

Oh, and after some last minute administrative mumbo jumbo, I officially start my post-doc on Monday. 3 days before my defense. Doesn't really mean anything as I don't anticipate really switching gears until the end of the month, but it does mean a better paycheck and some benefits a few weeks earlier than I had been planning.

blogging about blogging memes

I've seen two memes about blogging around lately and they each have some good points and some questions I don't feel like answering. So I've decided to combine them. I've been doing some thinking about this blog business lately and where I want it to go post-PhD so this may form the start of a bit of a series about blogging. Or not.

Anyways, first drawn from the meme seen at Chaotic Utopia.

Why do you blog?

From my very first post "I propose to write about being a scientist from a woman's perspective. This may include thoughts on lab work vs. field work, interesting discoveries that I hope to make, musings on balancing work life with real life, and whatever else seems appropriate. This year I've been thinking a lot about how and when to have children and how that meshes (or doesn't) with my career. So I'm sure there will be some mention of that later on..."

I guess it still fits what I write about but it is more of a "what do you blog" rather than a "why do you blog" sort of answer. I started blogging because I was feeling isolated and looking for support. I continue blogging because of the support I get and all of the great people I have encountered through this forum. It's also kind of fun to look at the world/events/life in a "is this worth writing about? how would I write about it?" sort of way. Plus, it's a good means of procrastination.

How long have you been blogging?

Since April 2005. But I have had various websites since 1995. The most recent pre-blog incarnation was a once-a-month updated web page for family and friends but I got tired of feeling like I had to "put on a pretty face" and only show the cheerful parts of my life. Both my dad and my brother work in computer-related fields, so I think blogging and designing/maintaining websites are just my way of using that set of genes.

Why do readers read your blog?

I must have something interesting to say sometimes because they seem to keep coming back.

What was the last search phrase someone used to get to your site?

female preteen scientists

And the few before that were also fun: keep name professionally and change name personally; getting married professional name; promise message chocolate; alice siebold; being a good wife when your husband is unemployed; scientist wardrobe; being sick in bed together.

OK, maybe that last one really isn't that fun, but I can clearly see how they link to my post topics. Aside from my proper name for a woman series (36 comments on part 2!!!), the post generating the most searches is usually the polar bears and penguins piece. But a search I noticed a few days ago was just odd: Why do women in pants cause temptation?

Which of your entries unjustly gets too little attention?

I think my blog entries sometimes get more attention (compassion) than they deserve. But I guess I'll pick this piece on "advice to a young grad student."

What blog did you read most recently?
Inky circus - but don't follow that link unless you have some kleenex handy as their current post is a doozy.

Which feeds do you subscribe to?
My current bloglines count is 61 feeds (counting 3 versions of my own to monitor the delay between when I post and when you all see it). I add feeds sporadically but some of my feeds I fear may link to defunct blogs or at least very irregular posters. I keep some of them around because I hope that the blog will be resurrected.

And here's some questions drawn from the meme seen at Nonoscience.

1. Are you satisfied with your blog’s content and looks.

Looks: Yes and no. It's time for a new header and color scheme. I'd love to figure out how to make it have 3 columns but I am not sure what I'd put in the third column. I'd like post categories that people could find and to have back and forward buttons. All but the header seem hard to do in Blogger and I'll have to attack them piecemeal.

Content: Yes and no. I feel restricted from writing about the science I do and that's something I'm struggling with now. But I feel like if I talked about my science I would be more identifiable and then feel less free to talk about the personal stuff. I don't want to dramatically change the tone/theme of this blog, so I guess I am contented with the content.

2. Does your family know about your blog?

Brother does and reads occasionally. BusinessMan does and never bothers to read - figuring I'll tell him if it's important. He does read Writer Chica's though, since he doesn't get to see her everyday. My mom doesn't know, wouldn't get it, and wouldn't approve with public sharing of personal stuff and potential career impacts. My dad doesn't know, but might think it's cool that I'm "into" this aspect of computer life, but I don't care to have him read it. My in-laws don't know. They'd probably think it's weird. Not having most of my family know is way for me to avoid feeling a need to filter out the not-happy stuff.

3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

Some of the friends I've told just don't get it and show no further interest. And that's fine. But a few have become regular readers. Long-distance friends seem to appreciate it more. I wouldn't say I'm embarrassed to tell friends about the blog, but it is always a bit awkward to bring up. Mostly because a lot of people either don't know what a blog is, or their perceptions of bloggers are shaped by media coverage that focuses on political blogs. I haven't had the experience of telling a friend that I blog and having him/her admit to blogging too. My friends that do blog either did so before I started or knew that I blogged before starting their own. I haven't yet met any of my readers (that I didn't already know) in real life, but I look forward to it.

4. Did blogging cause positive changes in your thoughts?

Blogging has been a great source of support. I remember the day I discovered Dr. Mom and Jane, my first women scientist blog discoveries. I was ecstatic. My commenters have seen me through some tough times (and some good ones) and I would say they have had a positive effect. It's nice to have cheerleaders and people to bring you back to reality.

5. Do you only open blogs of people who comment in your blog, or do you love to go and discover more by yourself.

I try to check out the blogs of everyone who comments, especially if they comment more than once. Most of those people get added to my extensive blogroll (on the right) but fewer make the bloglines cut. It's just a matter of time. When I want to read outside my feeds, I tend to start either with my blogroll or with a link from someone else's posts. Sometimes I will continue to cruise laterally but not so often. I would love to read more people's blogs, and I feel guilty that I don't get a chance to read all the posts of everyone who comments here, but if I was a religious reader I wouldn't get anything else done. If you want me to start consistently reading your blog, either comment obsessively or send me an email (on the right).

6. What does the visitor counter mean to you? Do you like having one in your blog?

Most of the time I just ignore my site counter and the reports it generates. It was helpful when I was a blog of note to track just how insanely many people were reading. It's nice to have a general sense of about how many people visit each day and that weekends are more lightly trafficked than the week. I'll admit to looking at the geographical distribution of readers - I love to see the hits from outside North America - and I periodically will scan for hits from here in Utopia. I haven't seen any yet, but if I did I would probably try to figure out who it was - friend or stranger. The google search strings are mostly predictable (as noted above) but interesting. But mostly I go for weeks without looking at the visitor counter and stats.

7. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

I don't have physical images of bloggers who don't post pictures of themselves but I feel like I have mental portraits of people's personalities. Maybe you could call them generalizations or caricatures, but yes, I have them.

9. Do you think a bloggers society is isolated from the real world of interaction with events?

If I didn't interact with real world events, I wouldn't have anything to write about. In some ways blogging has kept me more connected with the real world because people post about politics and current events and because my women in science updates force me to keep an eye out for relevant happenings.

There have been days when I've felt like I spent too much time in the blog world but usually I am kicking myself for not doing more work rather than missing out on in-person social interactions.

10. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it is a normal thing?

Of course it annoys me. But I don't get much of it here, which is kind of nice. And yes, it is a normal thing. One thing I am trying to get better at is handling criticism, both on-line and in-person. I tend to get defensive, and I am trying to remember to stop and reflect and then respond. This is much easier to do with commenters than with someone sitting next to you. One way that I am working at this is by responding to people's comments in the comment thread (so check back if you criticize or ask a question) rather than just ignoring or devoting a whole post to a comment.

13. What will happen to your blog after you die?

Right now, no one knows my username and password so it could just sit here indefinitely if I died suddenly. Actually, businessman could probably figure it out if it occurred to him - especially if he had access to this laptop. I intend to share access to my blog with someone when I get near my due date so that they (businessman? chica?) could update you all as soon as Mini arrives. But really, if I die or stop blogging, this site goes with it. Unless this were a team blog, I can't see any other future. I can't imagine someone replacing me as sciencewoman (like Dear Abby?).

Monday, September 11, 2006


Just caught the first serious goof-up in my dissertation. I have a nice parenthetical statement in chapter 3 that says (give percentages of occurrence). Obviously a note to myself that got missed. Well, it gives my committee something to gripe about that is easy for me to fix. It'll be a nice break from fixing all those sure-to-come major issues.

Songs of innocence and songs of experience

Ironically I was getting my oil changed. I was in the waiting room at the car place when I glanced up to the TV in the corner and saw thick black smoke covering the screen. The sound wasn't on; nobody else was watching. I watched for a few minutes, until just after the second plane hit. Then my car was finished and I went down to pay for it. I remember asking the guy what was going on in New York and he said he really didn't know, he'd been half-watching the TV coverage but all the internet news sites were jammed.

I got in my car and drove the few blocks to the bus stop. I flicked through the radio stations. Most were playing music or their regular morning shows. Finally, on an 80s station, there was jumbled chaos and snatches of news as their staff tried on-air to figure out what was happening. I got on the bus and rode for 45 minutes. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and since I didn't know anyone), I didn't say anything.

When I got to school, I went immediately to the library and tried to get more information on the internet. None of the news sites would let me in. I went to class, and the professor didn't say anything. I thought about saying something to her or the class, since the mostly-undergraduate population seemed oblivous, but didn't, deciding it was the prof's call. (Turns out, she didn't know). Class was 90 minutes and when it let out and I got on the campus shuttle bus to go to my office, the university was in an uproar. (It must have been about 11 am Midwest time.) A student on the bus told me that all the classes were cancelled because the White House had been hit by a plane. Others confirmed that the classes were cancelled and that planes had hit the WTC. Apparently no one knew about the towers' collapse.

I contemplated taking a bus home but at time of day I would have a transfer in the downtown of a major metropolitan area. It didn't seem particularly safe, and my office was on the ag. campus in a home-ec building. Seemed much safer.

Once I got to work, I learned the rest of the story. Someone had a TV set up in the lobby and people were watching. My boss told me I could go home, but I stayed. Didn't really work. Watched the news. Read the internet. Did some class work.

Later that day, I bought a ticket for the following month to Washington National Airport. I emailed a colleague in DC to tell her of my reservation and at least had the sense to ask her how she was doing and what was happening in her part of DC.

How could I have bought a plane ticket? to DC? on that day? I think I was incredibly naive. I didn't understand that the future had changed. I thought it was an abberation - a horrible tragedy - but not something that would set us on the course to a world-wide war on a vaguely defined enemy. I was young, just out of college, and I had grown up in a period of relative peace and security. I had vague memories of the first gulf war - but that was in 6th grade - and it was over quickly.

I'm not sure when it sunk in - maybe that evening. I think so. I remember feeling very alone (BusinessMan was visiting his parents) that night. I remember scattered emails over the next few days from friends on the east coast, checking in, and letting me know the status of mutual acquaintances. A friend who worked in my alma mater's alumni office let me know that our class had lost several members and had several near misses.

The effects of that day have been indirect but significant. I didn't really know anyone who was killed and I can't imagine the pain of those who did. But I lost some of my innocence that day and the in the days that followed. I took part in my first anti-war rallies. I put up with tight airport security. I have had nightmares about terrorists. And now I worry what sort of world I am bringing my child into. I hope that he or she can have the same innocence I did. But I doubt it will last so long.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

life after the PhD

I've spent some time thinking about how life is going to be different after the defense is done and the dissertation is turned in. One obvious change is that about 4.5 months from now, BusinessMan and I will have a child. And I know that upon Mini's arrival our lives will be turned upside down. But I've been trying to think of changes I can make now that have some chance of sticking once le bebe arrives. Here's what I am going to try to do.
  1. Work no more hours than those for which I am being paid, except for work directly related to publications with my name on them. Conversely, become more efficient during the time I am working (less blogging, reading, ipodding) - which I think will be especially needful after January.
  2. I will not eat any more home-cooked dinners in front of the TV, with the exception of meals cooked for a TV event (e.g., chili for a football game). I do not want to raise my kid with family mealtimes focused around the TV; it's not the way I was raised.
  3. I will attempt to spend at least one hour per week doing outdoor yard/house maintenance or improvements, provided that there is at least one daylight, non-working hour during the week when it is not raining. I like playing in the gardens and I don't mind raking or lawn mowing. I like breathing the fresh air and doing chores that make a noticeable improvement to our home's appearance.
  4. At least once a month, the Princess Pup and I will get in the car and venture out of the neighborhood for a walk. I am SO sick of the loops in this neighborhood.
  5. I will read, for fun, from a book (not a magazine) at least once a week. I haven't had the time to consistently read for pleasure since 7th grade and it is one of the things that I am most looking forward to about the coming months. However, I do have to find a way not to get so absorbed in the book that I stay up way to late at night and can't function the next day. In the case, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
I think these are realistic. I hope so.

Friday, September 08, 2006

sneak peek

We're having a baby! The "bubbles" are the umbilical cord.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I took the day off. Walked the pup. Got a wonderful wonderful massage (Becky, your hands work miracles) and a pedicure. I came home ate leftover soup (w/ eggplant, zuchini, bell pepper and tomatoes), and finished reading The Subtle Knife (gripping but somewhat frustrating). I took a nap, straightened my bookshelf, and took the pup to play in the park. I ate some rich ice cream, caught up on your blogs, and now I am contemplating whether to have more soup for dinner or to actually make something else. I needed this day. It feels naughty to take a weekday off, but also richly deserved.

I also wanted to share with you some of the new-to-me music I discovered on Pandora while in the final dissertation throes. What I couldn't get for free (and legal) on myspace, I bought on iTunes. And now I have a CD full of wonderful folk-rock-pop women to commemorate this time of my life.
  • release me - fall of snow
  • Some Things Get Lost - Alice Peacock
  • let it go - bluehouse
  • In this Room - Leslie Tucker
  • Heaven is a Word - Carla Werner
  • What I wouldn't Give - Holly Brook
  • Genius - The Murmurs
  • Something more than this - October Project
  • Black Butterfly - Patti Witten
  • In the Rough - Anna Nalick
Hopefully tomorrow I can return to the defense preparations fully recharged. And humming a new tune.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Women in Science Update

I'm so backlogged in this department that I am offering minimal commentary this week. But here's a bunch of super stuff for you to read.

Updated to add: 2 bonus great posts (at the bottom of the blogland section)

In Blogland

From Trillwing, her dissertation abstract: To Study, to Control, and to Love: Women Scientists in American Natural History Institutions, 1880-1950.

Also from Trillwing: Women in Science, Historical Edition: Doris Cochran's struggle for promotion at the Smithsonian

From Yami: Women in science don’t patent as often as men (excerpt from the subscription-only Nature article.)

From Ms. PhD: Sexism and peer review.

From Female Science Professor: Vital information or boring old war stories?

From Holly: Dissertation fellowships for women. (not just for science)

From FairerScience: Women in Science shouldn’t marry economists. Another take on the chauvinist Forbes editorial.

4000 years of women in science.

From Bitchasaurus (who’s new to me): Women in Science – Hypatia.

From Zuska: Summaries and commentary on the latest reports in AWIS's Washington Wire.

From Cocktail Party Physics (also new in these whereabouts): Geek Grrls: The Next Generation. (call for proposals from the feminist press)

In the News

Allentown Morning Call: Girl hiked far to become a top geologist. A16-year old girl was this year’s top prize winner at the International Science and Engineering Fair. Let’s hope she stays turned on to science through college.

International Herald Tribune: Female engineer out of the running to be Malaysia’s first astronaut.

Galveston County Daily News: Subtle inequities still exist in workforce.

The Hindu News Update: Create right atmosphere for women scientists to deliver. “Noting that science has no gender barrier, President A P J Abdul Kalam on Monday exhorted the top management in science institutions and the Government to create a conducive atmosphere for enabling women scientists and technologists to maximise their contribution to national development.”

India e-news: Family care takes women away from male-dominated fields.

NatureJobs: representation of women in science comes under scrutiny.

Washington Post: Women aren’t good in math…are they? Don’t get mad. Read it. (hat tip to Astra Nomer)

Featured Blog
Field Notes from an Evolutionary Psychologist is written by Holly. She's got some great posts on aspects of evolutionary psychology, which I know nothing about but am finding totally fascinating. Plus she manages to find the science and the beauty in her everday life, with posts on seed gathering, bats and much more. Plus, she's an academic struggling to finish her PhD. Plus, she's a great writer. How much more do I need to say. Go. read. now.


Fellowship Competitions open

I've praised graduate fellowships in the past, so I thought I should give my readers a heads up on this year's competions. This came through my university's list serv last week.

International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF): The Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies are pleased to announce the 2007 competition of the International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) program, which is designed to support graduate students in the humanities and social sciences conducting dissertation field research in all areas and regions of the world. Fifty fellowships of approximately $20,000 will be awarded in the year 2007 with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The application must be filled out and submitted electronically by November 1, 2006. Further information on application procedures, selection criteria and recently funded projects can be found on the IDRF website

Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships: The Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships are designed to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the education benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Predoctoral fellowships provide $20,000 stipends and a $3,000 institutional allowance; dissertation fellowships provide $21,000 stipends; postdoctoral fellowships provide $40,000 stipends and a $1,500 employing institution allowance, to be matched by the employing institution. Application deadlines vary according to each fellowship program with earliest deadline being November 16, 2006 for predoctoral fellowships. Further information on application procedures and eligibility requirements is located at the Ford website:

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships: The National Science Foundation aims to ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the United States and to reinforce its diversity by offering approximately 1,000 graduate fellowships in this competition. The Graduate Research Fellowship provides three years of support for graduate study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees and is intended for students who are at the early stages of their graduate study. Fellowships provide a $30,000 annual stipend and a $10,500 cost of education allowance. Deadlines vary by discipline with the earliest being November 1, 2006. Complete information may be found at:

EPA STAR Fellowships: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is offering Graduate Fellowships for master’s and doctoral level students in environmental fields of study. The deadline for receipt of pre-applications is November 28, 2006. Subject to availability of funding, the Agency plans to award approximately 65 new fellowships by July 20, 2007. Master's level students may receive support for a maximum of two years. Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years, usable over a period of four years. The fellowship program provides up to $37,000 per year of support per fellowship. More information may be found at:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

dissertation's in; what's next?

A while back, Writer Chica inquired whether I would be able to take any time off after my dissertation was finished. My thoughts on this have gone back and forth. Back in July, these two weeks between diss and defense seemed like this wide open territory for me - maybe I could even take a vacation. Last week, it seemed like I would be just as loaded down and stressed after turning in the diss, as before. Now, I am not so sure.

It is a tremendous relief to have a pdf put together, emailed to my committee, and forms handed in to the graduate school. I have taken today at a much lazier pace than any time in the past two weeks (months?). But there are still plenty of things that need to be done in the next few weeks.

This afternoon I'll finish photocopying the diss for the committee and making a binder of it (and previous drafts) for myself. I'm going to update my belly blog for the first time in weeks and maybe clean out the backlog of "to blog" links on bloglines. Maybe I'll also get around to catching up my endnote libraries. Maybe not.

On Thursday, I am getting a massage and pedicure (yay!) and on Friday, we've got the "big" ultrasound, where we won't be finding out the baby's sex, but we will get to count appendages, etc. On Sunday, we'll try to make it to the local renaissance festival (although it usually gets rained out). Next Tuesday, a collaborator/friend is visiting from out of town, and on Wednesday I've got an OB appointment. Thursday is our anniversary. The following Monday my mom arrives in the evening, and Tuesday I've got a meeting in Neighboring University Town (NUT!) all morning. Wednesday is the defense.

In terms of work, I've obviously got to write the defense talk and review some materials from papers (mostly) and classes. I've got to get my undergrad out in the field to maintain our field installations. I've got to write a talk for the week after my defense for a conference my funders are hosting. I'd like to get another paper submitted, but the current hold up is with a co-author not me. I'd really like to get some more feedback from my advisors on Chapter 4 - since neither of them have seen anything that remotely resembles the current paper. And I've got a new filing cabinet that I'd like to move into.

So life will return to having its usual mixture of pleasure and mundane. That's the thing about all this, isn't it? No matter what: life goes on.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Emotional crescendo and diminuendo

(Scientific vocabulary increasingly eludes me or fails to capture what I mean, so I am turning to other fields for help. The final paragraphs of my diss will be titled "denouement.")

Yesterday my advisor called S in the morning to check in (he's on family vacation until the diss is due). I told her to tell him to call me because we needed to talk.

3 pm - when he promised to call
3:40 - when I called him
4:00 when he called me back
5:00 - when we got off the phone. I have 3 pages notes from the conversation. He wants major changes to Chapter 4 and hasn't read the intro and conclusions sections with any detail (although he promised to and send me edits, when he got a chance)
6:30 - when I finished my emotional breakdown with my mom. Of course the work stress angst turned into life stress, and my mom couldn't resist comparing businessman to my father, but overall mom gets a positive rating for helping me calm down and see things in perspective
7:00 - finished trip to grocery store where I bought microwave comfort food and Ben and Jerry's because our kitchen is to gross to cook
7:30 - finished my palaak paneer and walked the dog, talked to my best friend and managed to actually ask her how things were going for her and not to have another panic attack
8:30 - businessman came home and we talked for two hours. I did not cry. I was all cried out.

So basically yesterday afternoon completely smashed any notion that I was going to float through this whole process serene and unperturbed.

Today, I have spent my time working on the intro and conclusions (with no edits from advisor yet) and ignoring Chapter 4. My friend, raftgirl, has offered to proofread one of my chapters and here's an excerpt from an email I just sent her.
"Glad you enjoyed [the danish feminist poster].

I basically told [my advsior] that I would do what I could but given that the thesis is due in 4 days, he couldn't expect me to completely reframe the paper before it went to the committee. However, it sure sounds like he wants it pretty well reframed and really ready for journal submittal before the final version of my diss. goes to the library. Kind of annoying that he would wait to the literal last minute to give me advice like this - he's had one version or another of my paper for a month and I've been working on this project since my first year.
... At this point I am realizing that no one is going to look over large sections of my dissertation before my committee sees it. I guess it kind of makes sense, in that it is solely a product of my work that I should have the full responsibiltiy for it, but I just don't trust my eyes and brain to catch everything. Running spell check/grammar check is helping - it's embarrasing some of the things it has caught - and we all know how bad word spell check is at actually producing an error free document.
Have a great weekend. And someday soon, I'll have to get you to tell me about your PhD plans. (It is a lot of work, but totally doable)."
So there's two different first person perspectives on how I am doing. Interesting in light of the discussion someone (you?) pointed to over at wolfangel's on how we portray ourselves on our blogs. And I guess I am just sharing to let all the other grad students out there that no one, no matter how fastidious a planner, is going to float through the last few weeks emotionally unscathed.

P.S. All offers to proofread will be taken seriously. I will send you a document. But I need it back by Sunday afternoon.