Saturday, June 02, 2007

The PhD

Sunil has a brilliant post (on second thoughts, does he ever write ordinary pieces, I wonder!) on how/why the PhD takes so long.
One of my colleagues from the department (although from a different research group) will be defending his PhD in a week's time. The best part is that he's doing it just three years after he started on it, which is incredible! That should give us mortals some inspiration to work harder towards making an attempt to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Like a lot of people say, one needs to be highly self-motivated to accomplish research goals. Like Murphy's Law wills, a zillion things go wrong; but it's important to keep things in perspective. We often discover (like I have) that stuff we were breaking our heads over for six months to a year have already been accomplished without much of a sweat by other research groups. So what do we do then? COLLABORATE!
Research in a chemical/biological field requires an immense amount of patience and fortitude, as many folks will attest. Cells mysteriously cells adhere to your substrate (when you expect it to be crawling with them!) forget to close valves/turn on pumps...the list goes on. Jorge Cham of PhD comics fame has it down really well, his comic strip keeping us poor lab-rats in splits many times a week!
It never ceases to amaze me how people ask "How many years more?", when they hear I'm a PhD student. Now that is a question many of us prefer to avoid like the plague. And guess what, they're never satisfied with your answer of "x years", hitting back with "why not (x-1) years?"!
But all said and done, it's quite a lot of fun, this voyage of discovery called the PhD!

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