The Sassy Scientist – PhD angst

The Sassy Scientist – PhD angst

Every week, The Sassy Scientist answers a question on geodynamics, related topics, academic life, the universe or anything in between with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Do you have a question for The Sassy Scientist? Submit your question here.

Iris asks:

Will I ever finish my PhD?

Dear Iris,

Most researchers won’t admit to it publicly, but they all had doubts when trying to complete their PhD research. Sometimes the daunting task may seem impossible: why did I ever think I was smart enough and could graduate to become a doctor in philosophy? There are too many reasons to throw yourself into a depression: whether it is the ferocious comments on first versions of paper manuscripts, a stumbling and embarrassing presentation at a large conference in front of a room of expert strangers, deleting your work halfway through your project without a back-up, waiting for months for lab time only to find out that the one piece of equipment you needed to process your field study samples just broke down and it will take months and a new grant proposal to replace it: the list goes on and on and for some reason always keeps expanding. Before you find yourself googling the nearest psychiatrist or — even worse — decide to pack up and go home to live in your parents’ basement while working as a barista like every up-and-coming movie star ever, take comfort in this: everybody around you feels, or has felt, the same as you. Talk to your colleagues, your supervisor, your professor or (I dare you) a stranger at a conference: you’ll get positive feedback on your research and encouragement that you’ll make it. Sure, it will take effort and you will see some nights through ‘till daylight, but eventually you’ll be there. And then you’re one of the few…

Waiting for you at the other side…

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written after struggling to finish a PhD myself, just as every single scientist has in the past.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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