I survived my candidacy. But not without emotional and physical injury.
On Thursday, I dropped off copies of my candidacy proposal to all the members of my Ph.D. committee to read before my presentation on Tuesday. On Monday I got a message to go see Dr. R (one of the members) because he had some comments on my manuscript. He had gone through the document with a fine tooth comb, starting with page one.
Although the phenomenon of exchange bias was discovered almost 50 years ago, its microscopic origins are still not understood.
“I looked up your reference for this. The landmark paper on exchange bias was published in 1956. That’s not almost 50 years ago, it's exactly 50 years ago."
Okay. So I had taken a lot of my information (including this opening sentence) from a paper I published last year, when exchange bias was 49 years young. Oops.
Most if his comments were grammatical in nature. For the most part I really appreciate having my grammar corrected. It should make me a better writer. However, this meeting gave me a full blown anxiety attack. If he was so thorough reading this manuscript, what would he be like during the presentation? I pictured making one trivial mistake and that being my downfall, flunking out of graduate school. When I got back to my lab I was crying and the boys had no idea what to do.
Luckily, the presentation itself went well. There were lots of questions. The good, brainstorming kind, not the bad, doubtful kind. It was pretty informal. Dr. R had resolved all of his issues with my manuscript before the presentation so he stayed quiet until I showed one graph he had a problem with. Dr. Hari jumped to my defense immediately and offered a pretty good explanation. After it was over, Dr. Hari took James and me out for Indian food. It was awesome.
Incidentally, Dr. Hari sent out an email shortly after the presentation to all the other members of my lab, asking them to join him in congratulating me for my promotion from lowly grad student to Ph.D. Candidate. I wasn’t on this list. About five people hit “reply all” to congratulate me, but since I wasn’t on the original list I didn’t receive any of them. Periodically the past two days James has gotten the emails and hollered, “So-and-so says congratulations!”
I mentioned there was physical injury as well. Like many people, when I am under stress I break out with cold sores. However, unlike many people I get them in my throat rather than on my mouth. It hurts like a beast. Oh the pain. So I felt them coming on Monday night. It hurt Tuesday but I persevered. Today I am still in a lot of pain, hoping it’ll turn around soon.
Things don’t really slow down much despite my efforts to stop the world from turning. I mentioned I had a final Tuesday morning only a couple hours before my candidacy. I didn’t open my notebook once to study and I ended up getting a 27/30. One of the points I missed because while plugging in numbers to a formula I wrote:
1 x 0 = 1
This is apparently not a correct statement. The TA, who knew I was probably concentrating on my candidacy, circled it in red and wrote “Nervous?” next to it.
I have a final presentation for my marketing class tomorrow and then trapping kitties on Saturday. Oh, and we have helium. I am actually looking forward to getting on a plane and flying to the frigid, arctic North just to get away from some of this stuff.