The Sassy Scientist – Remembrance

The Sassy Scientist – Remembrance

Questions permeate our daily life. What socks do I want to wear today? Which of the 10 insipid meal choices at the campus canteen do I want as my lunch today? Will I treat myself and get a Mai Tai tonight, or will I stick to a refreshing, good ol’ beer? As geoscientists, asking and answering questions really is our daily job. Not all questions are as deep as Uswah’s though…

Why did I do a PhD?

Dear Uswah,

Have a sit.

Now, close your eyes and travel back in time. Back to before your never-ending search for the next temporary, underpaid position in a far-away land.

Back to before your hopes and dreams and optimism were crushed by misogynistic, old white males, ever absent (or perhaps way too present) supervisors, supremely uninterested undergraduate students and utterly useless campus staff.

Further back, don’t stop yet. Further back, before your young and energetic spirit was quelled by unappreciative rejection letters, malfunctioning lab equipment, exceedingly long working hours, sorely short holidays, reviewer 2, reviewer 3 and broken meritocracy systems.

We are almost there. Before your first poster presentation, when you were still in awe at meeting new, interesting people. Before the amazement and sense of fulfilment you felt when you were told for the first time your results were publishable. Before the first time you received a pay check as an actual, legit scientist.

Here! Stop here! It’s the day you got accepted as a PhD candidate. Remember the spark that was lit in your brain when you thought of the problem you were assigned to solve. Remember how you knew that even from your small, exciting research effort you were going to contribute a small step in the titanic march for knowledge of humankind?

You were going to unravel the hidden secrets of Earth for the rest of the foreseeable future. Earth: our home. Our tiny, stunning, irreplaceable, complex, living home.

That beautiful feeling is why you did a PhD.

Don’t forget.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Don’t.

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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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