Friday, July 28, 2006

Academic Milestones ... and Hoops

With the recent acceptance of her first published research article, Science Woman is asking others about their professional/academic milestones over at her blog. That got me thinking that I probably have a few of those to be proud of.

So, here are my favorite achievements:
1. winning 5 awards from the Columbia University school of journalism my senior year in high school for kicking butt on layout and design as editor-in-chief of our school's yearbook
2. winning the chemistry award in high school for being the best chem student
3. scoring 44th in my state on a nationally adminstered math exam
4. getting into a prestigious SLAC and graduating with honors while being the first person in my family to go to college
5. teaching myself French while I was under-employed after graduation
6. getting into grad school AT THE ONLY PLACE I APPLIED
7. giving my first research presentation at a conference that I thought I had no hope of even getting into in the first place (I recently got two of my students' papers into it)
8. having my petition accepted so that I could teach my first course in primatology during grad school
9. getting a temporary full-time teaching position at one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country while I was ABD
10. teaching as a visiting prof at my alma mater, another top-tier liberal arts college, while ABD
11. introducing my students to my academic loves: primates, animal behavior, and evolutionary science
12. receiving one of the best teaching compliments ever: "I heard about evolution in other classes before, but I never really understood it until your class."

Ok, so that was lot, and I could probably think of others, but those are the ones I am most proud of.

For those of you, who like myself 6 years ago, have no idea about what kind of rigamarole getting a PhD involves, I thought I would break it down in a paragraph, as I did for my dad who emailed me the other night asking, "SO YOU ARE REALLY ALMOST DONE WITH THAT PHD?" He always uses all CAPS and writes in almost telegraphic sentences. Like I said before in a previous post, he is a man of few words. That raises the bar for verbose me to answer, in as few words as possible, his question about that degree.

So, I said:
"Yep, I am really almost done."

I could have left it at that, and he probably would have been just as happy to go eat his steak dinner that much sooner, but no, I had to delay his dining experience to give him an account of my anticipated ordeal:

"I just need about 150 more males to take my survey then I can import the rest of the data into SPSS, clean up the spreadsheet, analyze the data, and write up what story the data tells. Once I have all of the data, it'll take a week or two to import/clean up, a month to analyze, and a month to write it up. Then I'll send it to my advisor, she'll read and comment on it and we'll email back and forth for 4-5 weeks about what changes I need to make, then I'll make them and resubmit it to her and when she gives me the "go-ahead" that it is defensible as PhD level research, I will send it to my other 4 committee members and then they will read it and maybe about 3 weeks later comment on it, suggest changes and maybe ask a few questions. Once I get the go-ahead from them, I'll schedule my oral defense for 2-3 weeks later and then I'll fly out to NH to defend it and then at that time they will "pass" me and make me make more changes. After I make those changes I submit it to my advisor one last time and when she approves, I send it to the graduate school and then several weeks later I get the degree."

It is an awful lot of hoops to jump through, and as I learned from the first half of the process, the thing that takes the most time is working back & forth with the committee. It has to be done their way in the end. What a surprise.

That night, my main man treated me to a yummy steak dinner at our favorite cheap restaurant.


Rich said...

Wow! Thesis committees . . . Reminds me why I didn't become a PhD (I couldn't think like them)! You are the better person for getting this far . . . but wait, isn't that what I do for my job anyway??? Doing work to my boss (person who controls my professional destiny) satisfaction :-)

Congrats on getting this far . . . anytime where you can count your time left in a big project in weeks is great progress! Good Luck!

Alasdair said...

Yes indeed. We are all very proud of you, butterfly lady.