The Ruse is Up: My Dealings with Imposter Syndrome

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I feel stuck and I don’t know why.

Everything is telling me that I should be having the time of my life.

I’m going to my dream grad school. I’m working in a discipline that I love. I’ve successfully survived my first year. And terms such as “intelligent”, “smart” and “successful” have been used to describe me–to describe my life. I mean, I suppose if I were to look at my CV I could maybe shrug in agreement…

But I don’t feel it.

I don’t see it.

And here I am… Stuck. Anxious. In a rut. And scared that my life has been a horrible mistake. That I don’t really belong here. That I’m an imposter.

Continue reading The Ruse is Up: My Dealings with Imposter Syndrome

Maintaining Relationships in Grad School

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I made a request a week ago for blog posts ideas, and this was one that made me extremely excited to write because I struggle with this all the time. In fact, when I went to a therapist to deal with anxiety issues, this was probably the number one things that was talked about during our sessions.

What was the question?

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Continue reading Maintaining Relationships in Grad School

Organizing my Grad School Life (Year 2)!

Hi everyone!

Hopefully when you’re reading this I’ll be somewhere in Washington DC on vacation, so even though I got some amazing blog posts ideas this week on Tumblr, I thought I’d start off September with something a bit more chill and talk about how I plan to organize my life this year.

This is essentially a compilation of all the organizational techniques I either developed last year or am trying out this year. It’s just simple tricks I use to make my planning and organization of the billions of sheets of papers I go through just a little bit less overwhelming.

Continue reading Organizing my Grad School Life (Year 2)!

Working from Home

0625_workfromhome_630x420I always thought that working from home is an art form. There have been many times where I wanted to be productive at home, yet these days are instead spent watching silly youtube videos or scrolling through Tumblr. You know, the complete opposite of what I’m aiming for. Go figure.

Unfortunately when you’re a student, sometimes working from home is a must. Whether you need to finish an assignment on the weekend or maybe need to concentrate on that paper you’ve been procrastinating, sometimes home might just be the best place to work in order to avoid the distractions of school and the office.

Continue reading Working from Home

Caltech’s Chemistry Graduate Program

ct_cellularsignaling_spotlightOh hi there! I see you’re interested in applying to Caltech’s chemistry program. I’m assuming that you stopped by our Graduate Program Website before heading this way, but perhaps just got a bit overwhelmed with all the information university websites seem to throw at you and the various different links you have to click through to get any useful information… It’s okay. I felt the same way. That’s why I’m going to provide a more digestible version, with the addition of my own insight and advice I’ve formulated from my experiences thus far.

Last edited on 10/19/18.

Continue reading Caltech’s Chemistry Graduate Program

Tips to Survive Your First Year of Grad School!

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Hey! Hey! Guys, guess what?

…Did you guess yet?

I’m a second year grad student!!! *internally screams*

I know! I know! I don’t believe it either! Despite this crazy ride, I somehow managed to get through my first year and live to tell the tale! I can hardly believe it myself. There were definitely times I was tempted to quit…but, alas, here I am…ready to power through all the things that year two will bring (read: candidacy…*shudders*).

Like I said, it was definitely a crazy year, but since when is grad school ever easy? However,  as hindsight is 20/20, I decided today I would talk about a couple of lessons I wish I had known going in–lessons that probably would have saved me a lot of anxiety and stress…

Continue reading Tips to Survive Your First Year of Grad School!

Science isn’t Glamorous: A reason to unveil our struggles with science

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Science is boring.

This is probably a phrase you heard at least once in your life. Most likely, it came from the mouths of those who didn’t particularly enjoy science or didn’t do well in science-related classes. It was a comment that us scientists (or soon-to-be scientists) were always quick to defend. Maybe a little too quick. Because regardless of who said it and in what tone it was said, I am a scientist and I’m here to tell you that I agree…science can be boring. In fact, more often than not, it kind of is. Continue reading Science isn’t Glamorous: A reason to unveil our struggles with science

Lessons from the Field 3: Looking on the Brighter Side

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I was thinking about just skipping this week’s blog post because I’ve been in the sourest mood this week. Many things have gone wrong and it seems that every day there’s been a new problem. As such, my first attempt to write this post became a whiny, complaining mess which in my opinion was not very fun to read, and I feared that I would deter some younger readers from the idea of field work. Because, yes, field work is messy and complicated. When things go wrong, they really go wrong and require a lot of tireless improvisation. But field work is also an exciting and rewarding experience. I would have never learned as much as I have these past few weeks by simply staying in a lab all summer. I’ve met so many cool people, learned plenty of lessons from the field campaign veterans and got not only a really unique and hands-on experience in the field of instrument development, but also a crash course on the awesome science we’re studying here at the PROPHET site.

And besides, important lessons seem to arise from difficult times. So here is the third installment of my Lessons from the Field series! This time, hopefully, with a more positive twist. Continue reading Lessons from the Field 3: Looking on the Brighter Side

Lessons from the Field 2: Becoming MacGyver

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The field is tough. This whole blog post could probably be summarized by that one sentence. In fact, I might as well stop here. But I won’t. Because I’m mostly stress writing at this point. But anyway, if you haven’t done field work, take my word for it, while it can be a very rewarding adventure, it can also be a giant pain in the ass. (Or, in my case, both at the same time!)

Somehow I’ve managed to survive until now. We’ve reached the half way point of the field campaign and we have some preliminary data, I suppose. But, we also came out here with a brand new, never tested, homemade instrument (designed and built within a year, might I add). Therefore, even when all this is over, there is still tons of work to be done in order to characterize the data, figure out our sensitivity to certain species and, well, figure out what the data we managed to get really means. Nevertheless, I guess by anyone’s standards, we’re actually doing pretty good. After all, at least half of our instrument is working (!!), but I digress. Continue reading Lessons from the Field 2: Becoming MacGyver

Lessons from the Field: Science-ing across the US

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…Sorry, I just really wanted to use that title.

Anyway! Hello my Internet friends! I come to you from the land called Michigan while doing some field work with my research lab. I can tell you it’s been quite an adventure for several reasons (which I have conveniently listed in bullet points).

  • For one, this is my first official field experience as a grad student…so just about everything could be considered an adventure at this point.
  • Second, this field experience required me to drive from Pasadena, CA to Pellston, MI in an 18 foot truck…which considering I’ve never driven anything more than a small car… well… it was interesting to say the least.
  • Third, this is the very first time our instrument has ever been out in the field and considering we only had it working three days before we left… well, let’s just say that the troubleshooting might have to be a bit more creative than usual…
  • And fourth, not only did said brand new (and stupidly expensive) instrument had to survive both a 3.5 day road trip on the back of a truck driven by two inexperienced truck drivers, but it also had to be carefully hoisted 100+ feet up in the air by some rope and a simple pulley system in order to be placed in its current position on the research tower…

Let me say again…it’s been quite an adventure. Continue reading Lessons from the Field: Science-ing across the US

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