Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Loose Ends

Today I met with Dr. Hari for the last time before I leave. This whole week has been a week of “last times” which is only adding to my wrecked nerves. In the lab I’ve been explaining to my lab mates where I left off on measurements so they can resume smoothly after I’m gone. At home I’ve been training Dean to be a feral cat caregiver. I’ll think he’ll make a good crazy cat lady. The mood in the lab has been exhaustion mixed with excitement as I struggle to tie up loose ends and get ready for a grown up job. At home, the mood has been melancholy, wistfulness and sentimental. This isn’t going to be easy.

At the meeting today we discussed the status of my (several) projects. Dr. Hari wants to know if there are any updates to give collaborators. We went down a rather extensive list and got to a collaborator whose sample is giving us trouble. The data we get is intricate, the curves display four distinct features- I am used to interpreting two, at most three features and this one has me stumped. When Dr. Hari and I met with him in Denver to go over it, we all agreed the data was interesting but that we would need to be careful trying to explain what is happening. Afterwards, Dr. Hari told me that we had already spent an exhaustive amount of time on this sample and since we didn’t know what was going on with it, we should think about not pursuing it any further. After that, I made a couple other graphs and notes to bring to the project to completion to a level where I was satisfied putting it away for awhile.

It was wrapping up our meeting when I off-handedly asked Dr. Hari if he wanted to take a look at my final thoughts and attempts at interpreting this data. He shrugged and opened the entire PowerPoint file we had presented to the collaborator with my final slide added to the end.

He looked at the entire file as if he had never seen it before, marveling at how nice the data looked and expressed a lot of interest in rekindling our collaboration. I reminded him about our difficulty about interpretation, when he started listing off various possibilities and said he was immediately going to start reading up on the material. He was going to personally call our collaborator and talk about how to proceed. It was like I was presenting this data to a completely different person. When he got to the final slide I added to the end, he started talking about presenting it at the magnetism conference in November.

Why am I telling you this? It sounds great, right? Well he then yelled at me for “sitting on” the data too long without doing anything about it.

He told me two months ago not to pursue this project.

Being a grad student sometimes involves nodding your head and taking heat when you know to be in the right. I think this is a good lesson for the real world.

7 comments:

spanta said...

Well, in the end, this is still a good thing. I think Dean will be a good cat lady, too.

Christopher said...

Time for you to learn the corporate mantra: "Thank you sir, may I have another." :-)

Sylvia said...

If Dean finds a litter of baby kittens in the dumpster do you think he will be able to take them to the vets or will you come home to a much larger "family"?

magnetbabe said...

Well, since expanding our family by four would be very very bad at this point, I would anticipate coming home to our family expanding by say 2 and runnergirl's family expanding by the balance (she has a house). ;)

Toni Anderson said...

LOL--I always used reverse psycology on my PhD supervisor.

And of course it was YOUR fault!!! LOL. Enjoy the new job.

magnetbabe said...

toni-
Thanks for stopping by! Reverse psychology mixed with exploiting a short memory is the standard practice around here. :P

Toni Anderson said...

:)