Two years down, two years to go!
30th September 2016 marks the half way point of my PhD. Two years ago was my first day and in exactly two years time, my thesis will be complete and handed in (hopefully!) marking the end of the entire PhD adventure.
The two years that I’ve been here in Southampton has flown by, and the thought that I’ve only got that amount of time left to complete everything I want to and write it up into my thesis is making me feel slightly anxious, but determined to get it all done at the same time!
The majority of PhDs here in the UK last about three years and then you have time to write up your thesis and submit after lab work has finished. However, I am one of the few exceptions to the rule as I am on a unique four year program! My first year involved three rotation projects in different labs and some other coursework assignments as part of an MRes, then I automatically started a PhD in one of these projects and pursue that for the next three years! However, I think this course may be slightly more stressful than traditional PhDs, and in no way am I saying traditional PhDs are not stressful!!, but I have three years to collect all the data I can, write my complete PhD thesis and submit it on 30th September 2018 at the latest!!!! So again, the thought of that is slightly daunting.
However, in attempts to try and ease as much stress as possible at the end of your PhD, part way through your PhD journey we have to write a transfer thesis! And this is how I am celebrating reaching the halfway stage of my journey!
But what is a transfer thesis? In the simplest of terms, it is a mini thesis! All the results I have collected so far need to be written up into final format, all the methods I’ve used need to be defined and complete with a thorough review of all the latest publications that justify why I am doing what I am doing! All of this accumulates into a 100-200 page document! But in addition to that I also need to pass a transfer viva! Essentially a grilling from specialists in your field about your research where I need to demonstrate that I know what I’m talking about! Scary prospect! Once these two things are complete, I will transfer and become a fully-fledged PhD student, whereas not passing the transfer would give me a MPhil qualification at the end instead! But at least you don’t have only one chance to pass!
I have been very lucky in my PhD research so far and have generated some really interesting and novel results which gives me ALOT to discuss in my transfer thesis! However, it has also given me a big dilemma as my results have generated at least two completely different routes to go down for the rest of my PhD. I have the choice of whether to choose one path and travel further down that road, or follows both roads but not travelling as far down them! But then if I just choose one – which one? One path I will get to experience a heap of epigenetic techniques that I’ve always wanted to do, whereas in the other I could uncover the underlying biology behind my research which I think will be so much more interesting! MAJOR DILEMMA! Any thoughts and advice??
But as I reflect on what I’ve achieved in my PhD so far, I have learnt so much, and some of them have been the hard way when everything was going wrong. I’ve learnt not just the lab techniques and analysis that I definitely need, but I am now dubbed the ‘Queen of Western blotting’ as I can pretty much fix any problem after encountering what I believe to be every single possibility and I have had the opportunity to help some other students with their projects – something which has helped me really as I think I’ve learnt to explain things better and in a more simple way which led to me competing in the 3 Minute Thesis competition!
I have loved every minute so far – the highs and even the lows! But I do believe the best is yet to come! Discovering more novel results, publishing my first paper, attending my first conference and our lab are going adventurous and our next lab social is trampolining! The perfect way to break the ice with our new postgrads starting this week don’t you think?!
So here’s to another two years of blood, sweat, tears and laughter on this incredible PhD adventure.