Wow. Just, wow. I can't believe I'm finally (almost) finished with grad school. I really thought that the universe was out to get me for a bit there. What with my mom's lung cancer diagnosis last year, my own near-death experience in the E.R. last month, a family friend passing away suddenly, and the entire city of Durham being without power for two days before my defense, it's kind of a miracle I passed this milestone. I'm so incredibly grateful for everyone who attended my defense talk either in person or online, and especially grateful for my committee for moving their schedules around last minute to accommodate my illness.
The private defense went a lot more smoothly than I thought it would. I had anticipated a lot of nervousness and floundering on my part, but it truly was just a great discussion about my research, where it's strong, and where it needs a little more work during the revisions.
Three of my committee members went out of their way to say how impressed they were at the state of my dissertation. Given that I got most of my data only five months ago, and that I spent a lot of time recovering from, well, almost dying, they were shocked that my dissertation was in such a prepared and succinct state. I know that I've worked hard on this, but it was great to hear that validation from my committee that the amount I accomplished is something to be proud of.
My advisors did make a point to chat with me about personal ways to continue growth. One big one is my tendency to rely on external deadlines for my motivation. Science is a very self-motivated field, and I have to find a way to push myself without external forcing. That's definitely something I will be working hard on during my postdoc.
I'll end with some really inspiring words from one of my advisors, Susan Alberts: “You owe it to yourself to finish these chapters and get them published, but you also owe it to the world. As scientists, we have the privilege to study how the world works and decide our own schedules and time, but with that comes the responsibility of sharing that work with the world. If you haven’t published it, it’s not out there.”
Phew. After taking a deep breath and grounding myself in family and rest this past weekend, it's time to get back to work. Onwards!