Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You can pick your Research Advisor, and you can pick your nose . . .

Stop me if you've heard this one.

My semester's pretty much over, with all the in-class exams finished and just a take-home yet to go. I'm told by the older students that it's a cake walk, so I'm not stressing over that. No, what I'm stressing over is the end of the semester itself. Friday is the last day of classes and we're supposed to start our first rotation the following Monday. This wouldn't be so stressful if I'd get off my tuckus and find a lab.

I guess the problem is that I don't know exactly what it is I want to do with myself. Not that your PhD research has to be the defining moment of your career, but we've heard from a lot of professors who wanted to take students this year and none of them exactly set me on fire. I have other options than the people we've heard from, of course, but that means making a slightly less-informed decision, and I really hate doing that.

I guess I should be thankful we get to do three rotations (four if we're feeling indecisive). It's possible I'd still be at Northwestern if I'd had that option. Still, three rotations doesn't feel like it makes it any easier when the list of people I might want to rotate with is three or four times that long.

The only thing I would think to change about this system, at least up to now, would be to change how we hear from professors about their research. At the moment, it seems like professors who have funding and want students volunteer to take part in the research presentations to first year students. That's all well and good, but apparently the entire section of our department devoted to viral research got the email about speaking and went, "Meh." Oh, they have funding and openings, but apparently they think that ought to be a big secret.

Perhaps there ought to be conditions for making their presentations mandatory. I can't say what that might look like, but 90% of our presentations were from bacteriologists, and that just didn't do anything for me.

Hm, this post is over and I didn't say anything funny or controversial. Wait, I got it: Why didn't they do that?

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