I am currently a first-year PhD student and live in Dallas. Every day has a different work and life balance, but this is my typical working day…
Hi! My name is Claire, a first-year neuroscience PhD student at UT Dallas. As a first year, I am trying to set up my research project. but basically, my project is focusing on the effect of stress on memory consolidation and synaptic plasticity and identifying therapeutics for neurological disorders. My current commitment is to complete compulsory course work and read several papers related to my proposed topic in order to prepare for my first proposal presentation coming up in the end of semester.
I love science, especially neuroscience. The neuron. The brain. Aren’t they amazing? We all have the sophisticated organ-the brain. It’s complicated, but also fascinating. I have always wanted to learn more. Therefore, I decided to choose neuroscience as my major. In fact, I was not so lucky to find my interest in college. But I’m glad that I finally found it successfully.
A professor told me that science should not be separated from society. As a researcher, we should make the “complex” science become “simple”. After working hard on the long-term research project, I am hoping that I can share it with the public. But not everyone is a fan or expert in the field of neuroscience. So, I should explain the concept of my own research results to different people in different forms.
Therefore, I started my own blog at xoclairehu.com, trying to record my PhD journey and sharing some experiences and tips about the science. I also share my PhD student life on Instagram page @her.science.dream. As a PhD student by day and a blogger by night, every single day will become super busy. I think I’ll take a normal day to participate in science and how to manage everything. I’ll show you how I spend a day on Monday. Here we go!
8:00 AM – I generally wake up from 7:00 AM, because I don’t want to rush in my life. But recently due to the Covid-19, several courses were changed to virtual class. That means I would have a plenty of time at home. So, I decided to take my time! Every morning, I have to drink some water (sometimes would be lemon water), trying to hydrate my body.
9:00 AM – Monday is always the first working day of the whole week. I usually make my to-do list before the week starting. I’ll take out the weekly planner (I designed it because I am the only person who knows what I want) and write all things down. But sometimes there are unexpected things, like meeting and conference. After that, I’ll make a breakfast with a cup of coffee to cheer me up.
10:00 AM – Monday, means a lot of work to do. First thing first, having a neuroscience course. I actually kinda like this course, learning multiple pathways from brain to spinal cord. They truly frustrated me at first. But once I realized and fully understand, everything goes very well.
11:00 PM – After class, I have to go to the lab to do some lab work. As a PhD student, you must know that there are several things have to be done in a limited time. Once I get into lab, I started right away to plan the experiment of the day. If my supervisor is available, I’ll find her and discuss some details about my experimental design, procedure and something else. When everything is done, I’ll start my experiment.
12:00 PM – Before officially starting my experiments, I still have some time to review my notes (My experiment has a time limited). Also, I would love to review neuroscience recording video while I am waiting for the experiment.
13:00 PM – Okay, time to prepare something. That’s a really exciting time! I love making all the things done. Every lab has a special way of documenting, our lab too. I have to make sure where is my drug and whether my drug doses is consist as usual. I also have to write down my protocol before starting in every single experiment in case I would forget something.
2:00 PM – After doing some experiment, maybe western blot, slicing brain, IHC staining, I need to have a bottle of coffee to refresh myself (I usually do molecular biological experiments in the morning. I don’t know why, it’s just a magical or strange habit 😂. In the afternoon, I have a bunch of papers to read, and I also have to prepare for the animal behavior tests. Before starting to do the experiments, I have to go to the vivarium building to take my animals back.
Usually, I spend all afternoon to do the animal behaviors. Training and testing all my animals take a LONG time. But it is very interesting and exciting to see how animal response to different grams of filaments. I also bring some papers in the animal training room, so I can read while the habituation period.
18:00 PM – Finally! It a relaxing time. What a busy day! I always go to the mailbox to grab my mails before going back to my home. Some of the best thinking time of the day.
19:00 PM – Preparing for my dinner. Today I am so hungry, I can’t wait to start eating dinner. These dishes are typical in my country, including rice, vegetables, chickens, beef, and shrimps with eggs. What a nice night!
23:00 – My adorable bed!!! The best part of the day for me is having a self-care moment and enjoy my night with a clay facial mask and a cup of wine. I am truly believe that life balance is the most important thing in the world. Every single person should learn how to balance your life. I mean, of course that science is really important for me, but the health is as important as science, isn’t it? All right, I usually read a thrill novel, watch an exciting movie, or a funny TV show to end my day.
I am truly thankful that you spend your time to read a day of my life. I f you are interested or curious more about my science life or casual life, check out my Instagram @her.science.dream or my blog xoclairehu.com. I am excited to have you there!