Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spring Time

I can’t believe I forgot to wish everyone a Happy First Day of Spring the other day! So, Happy Belated First Day of Spring.

Unfortunately today was “one of those days” (think a full day in lab on 4 hrs of sleep — Kerry Washington and mom, I simultaneously love and curse you both — fueled by left over seminar pizza, grocery store doughnut holes and bad Hoyt Lab coffee (made with water that may or may not be safe to drink). The good news (there always has to be good news, right?) is that I have great group mates who make work super fun. Today we even had a special temporary guest group mate:

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The bad news was that this is that this was a particularly poor way (even for me) to prepare for an after-work run on a beautiful spring day. 😦 Once I was finally home I knew that I should get out and “enjoy” the spring +50F and sunshine but I just did not want to. Fortunately, an aforementioned awesome group mate put a little bug in my ear this morning when she off-handedly mentioned that she was going to be doing a 12 mile run this afternoon. (Yup, future Dr. Dr. T eats double-digit runs for breakfast…kinda like me and my doughnuts… :-/) As part of me was worked hard to convince the rest of me to hunker down for a lazy Saturday night (What better way to top off a rough rest of the day, right?) another part of me kept going back to T-sweet’s comment …and then I’ll go get a longer run in…oh, you know…about 12 miles or so…. Thankfully, the latter me won this battle and before I could change my mind I was out the door. If T-sweet is doing 12 today than I’ll be damned if I don’t do at least 6!

As always, the transforming power of 6 measly little miles is amazing! I felt like whole new person in a whole new day – damn it for being 7 pm! 😦 It was a beautiful night, there was no reason (never mind the excuses that left over pizza slices and bad junk food will try to sell you) not to get out and there is no reason not to do the same tomorrow. Plus, pulling out the spring running kit for the first time in months is always exciting 🙂

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Now I can get on, with no feelings of guilt, with the my lazy relaxing Saturday night with these two:

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Hope you can do the same!

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F32

Well is this long over-due or what?!?! And to be honest, I’ll be damned if I can tell you what I’ve been doing that takes up so much time!

I did go on two wonderful runs over the weekend, and once this week.

On Tuesday night “one beer” with “a friend” turned into multiple beers and whiskey and Triumph and The Ivy and all the roommates from freshman and sophomore year … and then quite the hang over for a Wednesday. Ugh.

I wasn’t particularly prepared for work today (see above paragraph) so there was a lot of near eff-ups in the lab and frantic experiment slavaging.

Tomorrow will be a big-time experiment day. I mean, why not plan two experiments that you haven’t done before for the same day and make sure that their busiest times overlab? There was no heavy drinking today, or consequences of previous heavy drinking, so I have high hopes of making it through the experimental circus without ending up as the clown of the show.

In contrast to what is suggested in the above paragraphs, today was actually a pretty big-time day when it comes to a work-related item – my F32 study session met today! For everyone who isn’t a slave to the prospect of academic research, the “F32” is a class of post-doctoral fellowships funded by the NIH that (in combination with a hell of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears…and a bunch of luck and a little fairy dust…why not? it won’t hurt…) have the potential to MAKE YOUR CAREER.

There are three application dates for said fellowship each year. I submitted my application on Dec 9th — way to be prompt NIH — errr….I mean, take as much time as you need, oh gracious funding agency! Anyway, each “applicaion” is actually a monster of documents that includes a 7 pg research proposal, personal statemnt, biographical sketches from the applicant, mentor and all co-mentors (these are substantially more work than one would think), statements about your institution, your collaborations, your training opportunities, your research ethics, your teaching opportunities…the list goes on and on and on and on and it is all in the context of your long term goal of becoming the next great academic research hot-shot.

So, my big fat ass paper monster was turned in on December 8th and the study session that was assigned to review it met today to do just that. The top applicants (selected by the study session…typically ~10%) will then be awarded fellowships that fund 3 years of post-doc salary and $x000 for travel to conferences, meetings, etc…

Now, as you may imagine, it looks damn good to be in this top %10. It opens the doors to funding opportunities that come at the end of your post-doc career/ beginning of your junior faculty stint (think K99 territory my fellow nerds). Ultimately it then helps build your case for why one should consider entrusting you with said precious junior faculty honor.

So, yeah, today was a big day. I’m not sure when I’ll actually find out the decision of my session (if the time between the application deadline and today are any indication…never mind…) but I will most definitely keep everyone in the loop when I do (as I obviously haven’t anything of actual interest going on in my life right now)!

I hope everyone has had a nice week and will make it to the weekend also without donning the village clown costume. In the event that you do end up in said costume, make it count!! 🙂

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Purdue Prospective Faculty Workshop Recap

I survived Purdue (and, maybe more importantly, Newark Airport)!

Both Monday and Tuesday were packed with engaging lectures and opportunities for Dr. Trot to talk about herself and her research. (In the unfortunate scenario that you DO NOT know a scientist personally, given the chance to talk about their work they will a) find a worm-hole up to cloud 9 and b) refuse to get down and shut up until they go hoarse.)

Instead of going into all of the gory details of the topics we covered, I’ll just include main, most interesting points of the day —

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Monday

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Tuesday

The outfits of course!!

Actually, that’s only partially true. It was super interesting to hear about the parts of working with people from different cultures (“culture” = age, location, language, religion, training ideology, etc…) that you often aren’t aware of and the significant influence they have on a project’s outcome. Presentations on what to consider when striving to be a successful mentor for graduate students (or anyone for that matter) and as a classroom instructor were also super useful. The absolute top highlights of the workshop were as follows:
1. The opportunity to meet with the faculty of the Chemical Engineering Department
2. Presenting my current research and ideas for future research directions to the CE faculty
3. Potbelly!

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Potbelly!

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Purdue Prospective Faculty Workshop: Fun Facts and Pot Bellys

Fun fact: West Lafayette, IN follows Eastern Time rather than CST. This will be true even if you fly into O’Hare and (incorrectly) assume that your desination, only 2 hrs away, is in the same time zone. Doing this will simply result in you being an extra hour late to your first engagement of the evening. :-/

The good news is that I actually didn’t miss out on anything because the dinner spread at said engagement was nonexistant!!

The even better news is that I somehow managed to make 2 adorable new friends during those precious final 15 min of the Welcome (non)Dinner who I then coincidently ran into while we independently scavenged the Purdue campus for emergency dinner supplements! In the case that I hadn’t instantly had a science-crush on them at the Welcome (non)Dinner, I would have totally fallen for their great taste in late night sandwich shop choices. Now we all know that I love food and I love to eat, but this is often in the context of trying new things and tackling new challenges rather than being a die-hard groupie for a particular restaurant or recipe. That being said, when I stumbled upon by beloved Potbelly after venturing only three blocks from the hotel, I was way excited. When I noticed my new friends drift in after me I was beyond excited!

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Laughing your way through one of your favorite sandwiches, that you’ve apparently missed dearly since moving to the land of 8.5 restaurants, is a great way to cap off a long (and actually rather stressful) day. Hopefully it is also a great primer for the next two intense days that are waiting on deck, and in the hole. (Why do we always forget about who is waiting in the hole?)

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Pre-Prospective Faculty Workshop – Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and breakfast)

Dr. Trot is on her way.

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We took the NJ rail from Pton Junct to (the wretched) EWR. After a complmentary 30-minute delay (of course) we are finally en route to Chi-town. Upon landing it’ll be a mad dash to fetch what is likely be a go-cart posing as an “eco car” for the final leg to West. Lafayette. (At $79.99 for 3 days I really have no justification for being picky…)

Assuming all goes well above, I’ll report back re: the welcome dinner tonight and just how panicked I am about my talk that is still 2 days away. (I’m sorry stomach lining…and I will continue to be until 4:30 pm on Tuesday.) The good news is that I am now down to 10 min and something resembling a coherent discussion for each slide and transition. The bad news is that the majority of my flight’s passengers now think I’m totally nuts.

Alrighty, it’s just about time to sharpen up the elbows and make sure boots, tights and skirt are properly adjusted for optimal mad-dashing. (If the don’t already think I’m nuts…)

Good thing I’m well fueled from this most delicious start to my day…

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Pre-Prospective Faculty Workshop – Secret and Destroy!

Dr. Trot’s best efforts from ~7:30 am until nowish, ~1:30 am, (not to mention the best efforts of a number of my very patient, smart and helpful group mates and friends) have produced what will hopefully be a sufficient 10 min talk on my current and future research for the last minute demand making brilliant faculty of Purdue’s Chemical Engineering Department. Secrete and Destroy! The slides are a little heavy on cartoon bacteria and a little lean on data points. (Never mind the bast background knowledge that’s supposed to be packed away upstairs in the noodle.) But, quite frankly, that’s about as good as you could ever hope to get from this kid in t<20 hrs Purdue.

While I might be just a titch underprepared in terms of my "expertise" that got me invited to the shit storm outstanding professional growth opportunity that I’m sure the next two days will bring, I spent my precious little non-presentation-preparing time ensuring that I was well prepared in the outfit department. 🙂 It’s all about priorities people! Honestly, in the end that is what really matters anyway, right? Right? Anybody? Hello?

Speaking of priorities, Dr. Trot had best call it a night. One needs to build strength for such ventures as going through the living hell masquerading as Newark, NJ, and then driving half way across the one-and=only Hoosier State. (Never mind that Mother Nature is robbing us of an hour of sleep tonight for absolutely no good reason. What a great way to start my adventures in The Crossroads of America!

Please wish me luck!

 

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Pre-Prospective Faculty Worshop SURPRISE!!

By some unlikely alignment of the stars, a generous act of god and/or an erroneous “acceptance” email sent to me by a member of the selection committee, I will be attending a Prospective Faculty Workshop at Purdue University over the next few days. 😀

The rather short back-story (you’re welcome) is that the university will apparently be hiring to fill 107 new tenure track engineering faculty positions over the next 5 years. With this in mind they are holding a 2-day long fishing expedition worshop for 30 “senior graduate students and post-docs” that have the intention of applying for faculty positions over this time frame. Enter an optimistic/delusional Dr. Trot.

God knows how many people applied, but somehow (see above) your’s truly was selected to attend!! 😀

The workshop is two days long, starting with a welcome dinner tonight. The schedule is largely divided into 1-hr segments dedicated to different relevant topic: What is expected of new faculty members? Proposal writing: the art of persuading a sponsor to invest in you! Engineering across cultures. Preparing a personal development plan. Mentoring graduate students. Effective techniques and tips for creating successful learning experiences in the classroom or lab. There will also be a poster session during which all of us present our research, tours of various departments and meetings with a number of current faculty members.

Fortunately I managed to find a direct flight to ORD from (unfortunately) EWR. Please say a prayer. (After a series of irritating logistics email exchanges) I have decided that it then makes the most sense for me to rent a car for the 2.5 hr drive to West Lafayette. I am passing up a 4 hr (each way) shuttle ride (at very inconvenient times) – as difficult as this may be, I’m working hard to get over it.

So this is where things stood 24 hrs ago. A 2.5 day workshop that is super relevant to what I want to do in ~3 years and a direct flight to get there. Good. Great. Grand. Happy Dr. Trot.

And then I received this…

“The Head of the School of Chemical Engineering is requesting that each ChE participant prepare a short 10 minute presentation on their current and future research. This presentation will be in front of Chemical Engineering faculty and a computer will be provided. There are no other guidelines.”

O.M.G!!

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Terrified Dr. Trot.

In addition to this, a schedule was attached to the email stating that I will have “meetings” (read: interrogations) with three department faculty, including the department head! In the blink of an eye my useful and interesting, yet totally benign, next few days have mutated into a most intimidating prospective faculty interview two years too early! And happy Dr. Trot has transformed into a terrified and anxious yet excited, 3-um-of-stomach-lining (max) away-from-an-ulcer Dr. Trot. :-/

Wish me luck in preparing the 10 min talk of my life!

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