Monday, April 13, 2015

My favorite moment from when I was in grad school was when…

No doubt there’s a lot of bitterness out there about graduate school these days. There’s a steady drumbeat of despair about getting jobs, dealing with the frustrations of failed projects, the pain of publishing, all amid the backdrop of decreased funding. Here are a couple of examples I just saw:
Reading that last one had me nodding in agreement–there are indeed many tough times in grad school. But wait, weren’t there a lot of good ones, too? In fact, looking back at it, grad school was one of the happiest times in my life. And there were many great moments I will never forget. Here are a few of mine:

  • I remember the very first time I saw single molecule RNA FISH spots in the microscope, which came after months of optimization (i.e., messing around). There they were, super bright and unmistakable! I ran and got my advisor Sanjay, who was all smiles.
  • Talking about conspiracies, both scientific and political, with Musa.
  • The first time I saw an endogeneous RNA via RNA FISH (instead of the transgenic RNA spots from before). I felt like I was at the beginning of something very cool, like there were endless possibilities ahead of me. Also wish I had figured it out a couple years earlier... :)
  • When I felt like I had finally figured out cloning with a long string of flawless ligations (winning streak since broken, by the way!).
  • Writing a super complicated (for me) simulation directly in C (implicit method with Newton-Raphson for solving a non-linear PDE in 3D, I think) all in one go and having it work perfectly the first time I compiled it. Yes!
  • When I was feeling like nothing was working and my project was hopeless, and I walked into Sanjay’s office and talked to him for a half an hour, and came out feeling like a million bucks.

I bet many of you have a few of these too, so please leave them in the comments. Would be nice in this particular day and age to have a list of reasons reminding us why grad school might not be so bad after all.


  1. Having time to sit on the bus each morning and read journal articles in depth.

  2. I loved grad school and have quite a few wonderful memories. Probably the best one is when I was trying to sync yeast cultures with respect to their cell division cycle and got instead robust metabolic synchrony without cell division:
    Just writing this makes me smile :)

  3. very own experience of separating single cell aleurone layer in 5 seconds from wheat seed after a long month of practicing.

    optimizing wheat genetic transformation, sitting long hours in front of flame and laminar cabinet.