Friday, January 14, 2011

Long Time No See!

Hello, blogosphere! It's been a while.

I spent the past few months dealing with the busiest semester of my life. Here's a little summary of what I've been up to:

I submitted my first grant ever! After submitting for the August deadline, my NRSA was scored, but the percentile was not good enough to be funded. Still, not bad for a first try. I've taken the comments and used them to whip my grant into shape for resubmission. In fact, I'm revising it right now for the American Heart Association's predoctoral fellowship. (I know what you're thinking -- why is a neuroscientist applying for funds from the American Heart Association? They also fund research on stroke, and on "related fundamental problems" in basic science.)

I went to a sweet Gordon conference! The Neural Development one, at Salve Regina College up in Rhode Island. I also used the meeting as an excuse to go visit a bunch of friends in Boston. The whole trip was a blast. I definitely want to go back for the 2012 meeting, and I may try hit another Gordon conference this summer. Emory just sprang for $650/year in professional development funds for every single graduate student, so I hope to attend a small conference and SfN this year.

I taught my first class as an instructor (as opposed to a TA)! My first semester as an ORDER Teacher-Scholar was great. I teamed up with three other grad students to teach a seminar about our research on diverse topics. The freshmen in our class learned all about neuroscience, microbiology, sociology, and ancient apocalyptic literature. I was blown away by how talented Emory students are -- the students' research projects were creative and interesting, and their papers were actually fun to grade. This spring I'll be teaching a modified version of the same course to upper-level students. I'm looking forward to revising my lesson plans to keep the things that worked and tweak the things that didn't. (One thing that worked: I had the students score abstracts in a mock study section! Clearly, I had grant writing on the brain.)

I finished my coursework! After a scheduling issue last spring, I had to take an elective in the fall to complete all of my required credits. I ended up in a seminar about ion channels. Ion channels aren't really related to my research, but reading X-ray crystallography papers made me feel smart (and also, at times, really dumb).

I mentored a student in the lab! She's still working with me, actually, and doing a great job on her project. In the process of training her, I've gained new respect for all of the people who trained me, and a little bit of new respect for myself, when I consider just how much I've learned over the past eight years in various labs. It's a lot to teach! But it's been a lot of fun thus far.

I PASSED MY QUALIFYING EXAMS! Yeah, that deserves all caps. Be glad I'm not using the < blink > tag. I'm a PhD candidate now! My entire cohort passed quals on the first try, because that's how hard we rock.

And, last but certainly not least, I got married on January 2! (I remain Ms. Mariani, for those who may be wondering if my Blogspot address and Twitter handle will need to change.)

I definitely would not have made it through 2010 without a supportive partner to start dinner, fold laundry, buy groceries, pick me up from classes that ended after the bus stopped running, and listen to me vent when I was stressed to the breaking point. While I would not necessarily recommend planning a wedding during one's craziest year of grad school, I'm thrilled to start the new semester as a newlywed.

Most of Atlanta has been snowed in for the past week (!), and I'm enjoying the lull before going back to academic life. Here's hoping that 2011 is a bit more laid back than 2010, so I can return to regular blogging.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on ALL of the above! I found everything in this post to be very true, although I still have a few years before I write my own grants. I am currently mentoring 2 undergrads and a high school student in our small lab (which is pretty much my PI and myself). It definitely gives you some insight into yourself and respect for all previous mentors. It's a great learning experience.

    Congrats on the wedding. My fiance and I are getting married in the fall, which will be around the time I apply for neuroscience PhD programs. I guess it's a good thing it's before and not during!

    Best of luck in the new year!