Last time I posted I was rounding out my PhD thesis and looking forward to defending it. Lets just say the last few months have been interesting, but exciting. I’ve moved to Mount Allison University to start a Postdoctoral fellowship, defended my thesis, attended the National Center for Marine Algae and Microbiota algal culturing course in Maine, learned some really interesting techniques in the new lab and explored a lot of the Canadian Maritimes with my fiancée. It’s been a blast.
Mount Allison is fantastic. I have always felt a strong desire to experience a liberal arts university and this one has not dissapointed. The faculty and staff, that I have engaged, are enthusiastic about their work, professional, extremely knowledgeable and take a lot of pride in how well they communicate with others. The product of that pride really shows through in the quality of undergrads here at Mt.A. The saying, that I heard at the other schools I’ve attended, where a good undergrad will double your workload, certainly doesn’t apply here. Make no mistake, I have to work harder because of them, but that’s mostly because they’re asking very interesting questions that I simply don’t have the answer for at that moment. In terms of technical abilities, these students are top notch. I’m very happy I chose to come here.
My PhD defense was …. interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it and all the years as a graduate student had me ready for that day. I say it was interesting because even though everyone told me certain aspects of typical doctoral defenses exist (eg. seemingly endless nitpicking instead of asking about what you think your thesis is about), you don’t really believe them until you experience it. In retrospect it makes perfect sense. If you want to see how capable, prepared and psychologically tough someone is, you don’t get them off balance by playing to their strengths. You pick at them until they are off balance then you go for the jugular, or they lose it, whatever comes first. And lets be honest; after 4+ years of studying any topic, who can stay balanced when 250 pages of your blood, sweat and beers are reduced to grammatical errors and differing opinions on terminology. Sufficed to say I pass and at this point that’s all that really matters.
I attended the NCMA algal culturing course in Walpole, Maine, the week after my defense. Let me start off by saying that if you’re in the business of culturing algae and haven’t attended this course yet, I strongly encourage you to get on next years program. It is worth every dollar and the professional contacts you make at NCMA, as well as with the other course participants, are invaluable. I’m going to have a blog post dedicated to this course so I won’t spend more time on this topic other than to say thank you to Willie, Carm, Pete, Julie, Nicole and everyone at Bigelow Laboratories.
If you’re already interested in Bigelow and/or the NCMA course, check out their website at; https://ncma.bigelow.org/. And yes, their T-shirts are as awesome as they look!