Monday, July 30, 2007

Well, that's done, for now.

I had my committee meeting this morning. It was a little weird--not bad, but weird. Hard to explain. I'll try to digest it a little tonight and come up with a more descriptive explanation.

My vibe right now--things are going ok, but they are really worried about my timing. My PI and I had discussed doing two more sets of experiments--relatively straightforward ones at that--and then sitting down to write a paper. We expected to be done, or mostly done, with the experiments before I left on maternity leave.

I knew the mechanistic part of the paper was a little thin, so I always figured I'd end up with a few more experiments. I didn't know if they'd happen before we sent the paper out or once we got revisions. But I knew they'd happen.

Anyway, my committee is worried I'm going to run out of time for said experiments. Now, I'm talking about going back to medical school next July, or next November at the latest. That's at least a year. I have to defend my dissertation before I go back, and I have to have my second paper accepted before I defend. So basically I was planning to leave myself a few month buffer zone before I planned to go back to med school. Even then, I'll be back from maternity leave no later than the beginning of January. I've still got a few months of work time before I go back to med school. Plus I've got two months before I go on maternity leave.

Knowing all this, my committee is still worried. They kept saying it was the pregnancy, or my "situation" or "circumstances", which they liked using better than pregnancy (it's some sort of dirty word or something). And now my PI is all worried too. Granted, it's going to be a lot of work, which I've known, but I'm up for it. Why all the stress?

My committee talks without me for a while both before and after I give my presentation. Usually the talk before is very brief. This morning it was about half an hour. Since I hadn't even presented yet, I know it wasn't all about my project. We just found out that the first choice chair candidate accepted the department's offer to come here, so I think that was part of the talking. But I also wonder if my PI was giving them info about his situation that I don't have. That would explain all of the hurry-up talk.

I am a little concerned about the lab. This morning, Nadia's bench and desk were cleaned off. Dr. B came by after my meeting, and all he said about it was that she's working in her husband's lab upstairs. Nothing about if that's a permanent move, or if she's still technically part of the lab, or what. No one knows anything. It's like when Sriram left--he told Ming he was leaving that day. Things are very bizarre-o around here. It's down to me, Kim, and Ming full time. Ossama is here sometimes evenings, sometimes weekends, but rarely at that. My summer student is done, and the high school student is done next week. The perk is that the three of us women get along really well, so even though all of the lab maintenance stuff is now spread over three people instead of 6 or 8, it'll actually run smoother, I think. But we're all worried about what is happening to the lab.

We don't have any info. We know his grant was up in May--we're living off of what's left for a while. The info we've gotten, at least in the beginning, was that the leftover money could last us a year. Dr. B has talked about renewing his grant or writing a new one, but he hasn't done it. Honestly, none of us thinks he will. With stepping down as chair on the clinical side and phasing people out of the lab here, I think he's getting ready to retire. Can't say I blame him. Yes, he did promise me not even two years ago that he'd be around for at least 7 or 8 years before retiring. Things change though. I'm not upset that he changed his mind about retiring. I'm upset that he's keeping us completely in the dark about the future of the lab. I don't expect to be consulted on his decision. I'd just like enough time to get a contingency plan in place.

Anyway, the thesis committee meeting this morning wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. I got some good ideas about other things to try. The timeline talk was a little weird, but I otherwise agree with their overall assessment of the project. I do think it needs a little more meat before it's published, and hopefully some of these new experiments will take care of that. But I guess we'll see.

That's all for now. I need to get organized here, and then do some organizing at home tonight, but I'm hoping to have time to just chill and recharge this evening. We'll see if that happens.

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