The final push

For all the students out there, we’ve almost made it! The end of the semester is nigh! The only things between us and fleeting freedom is exams, exams, class projects, group projects, and exams <–note the sarcasm here, I’m not actually excited about any of these things

It’s the week of US Thanksgiving (aka The week where everyone seriously questions our sanity as we give thanks and then go kill each other for a TV that’s $50 off). I suppose Thanksgiving week is shorter.

Steven, the dogs and I are foregoing any long drives this year in favor of retreating to a cabin outside Asheville.

Tell me you aren’t relaxed looking at those views. But these are what we’ll be able to see from our cabin!

We are SO excited to get away from everything to completely unwind for a few days.

On a side note, Steve and I had a rather intense round of darts this past weekend and I foresee a rematch in the near future


We’ll be sure to post some pics of the Biltmore house dressed up for Christmas and of the mountain views and of the crazy bat (Luna) enjoying the mountain views

Have a safe and happy week!


The Stages of Writing an Academic Paper

also known as: The main source of procrastination for grad students


This week has been pretty chill in the real (outside grad school) world so I don’t have a ton of pictures to show. Instead I’ll talk about writing an academic paper ya know, since I’m procrastinating on writing an academic paper.


Stage 1:

Image result for joy

Happy in all colors!!!

No really, you’re pretty excited that you finally have enough “good” data to write a paper! Congratulations! You’re super stoked about getting your name out there and you dream of all the fame and glory that comes with the most revolutionary paper that’s highlighted in Nature or Science.

Stage 2:

I have to make how many graphs?/What does this even mean?/Whose idea was this?

This is the stage where you actually start trying to make sense of all the data you meticulously recorded over a period of weeks/months/years. 9/10 times you wonder what possessed you to record the geometry of a specimen when you actually needed the weight of it, and you didn’t record the weight so now you have to go back and do that so your data can make sense.

Rinse and repeat for a while.

Stage 3:

Writing time! It’s time to put words on paper! So exciting!

but not really

Just about every academic paper (STEM related) follows the following general format:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Future Work

While this seems very simple what this actually means is:

  • Summarize 4 months years of work in 250 words (editors laugh maliciously)
  • Lit review! Where you talk about what everyone else has done that’s basically the same thing you did and they already wrote about it and you ‘read’ 40 papers that are cited. Then you go into how your way is better and different from all those others.
  • What did you do and how did you do it? <– This is typically the easiest part of the paper to write
  • GRAPHS, PICTURES, DATA but you can’t explain it yet. Gotta build some suspense by showing everyone your results while not saying what it means
  • Let’s talk about what what is on my graphs. Suspense ends here. This is where your work blows everyone out of the water in some mind-boggling revelation that your data clearly displays.
  • This is what I did, and because x, y, and z effed up, I’m going to pretend that fixing those issues will be my future work.

Basically, if you try to write this in any sensible order, you will be miserable.

This is also the stage where you put off writing the actual paper for as. long. as. possible. while the paper haunts you in your dreams.

Step 4:

You finally finish writing your first draft and send it to your PI and he/she hates it. You go home defeated.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you and your PI are happy with the paper and all the edits you have made.

Step 5:

Submit it to a journal!! You are confident that everyone will love your paper and that there are absolutely no holes in your logic and you’ve covered every possible scenario to test your hypothesis.

<- Side note: at this point in the process, your paper is sent to 3-4 people in your field for them to read and review->

Step 6:

You have been judged. And deemed unworthy.

Reviewer 1: “Looks great! The data clearly supports the hypothesis and the explanation makes sense.” OK to publish

-We love reviewer 1 and will typically address every comment they make

Reviewer 2: “Not a huge fan of this one outlying data point, could you make it go away? Other than that loved it!” OK to publish

-See reviewer 1

Reviewer 3: “This is the worst paper I have ever read. Seriously, who let these idiots do research anyways?!? Everything needs to be re-tested and you also need to do these additional 30 tests to even start to prove your hypothesis” OK to burn in hell

-This reviewer can suck it. Clearly they missed the entire point of the paper and probably didn’t even read it! All of your comments shall be ignored/we shall come up with some kick ass comebacks to all your hate.

Step 7:

Follow up with your edits and repeat steps 3 and 4 until you and the PI are happy with the paper. Resubmit paper to journal

Step 8:

WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Congrats your paper will now be published and fame and fortune shall be yours! Your research has changed the world!*

*This strongly depends on the impact factor (how many people even read this sh*t)  of your journal. The higher the impact factor, the more important you are.

Once you have finished celebrating your acceptance, you begin planning what you should do for your next paper cause any grad program worth it’s clout will not give you a PhD having published only 1 paper.





It’s been a pretty long time since I posted. I kinda withdrew from social media after my ACL surgery. I guess part of me didn’t really want to remember that part of my life but that’s kinda stupid. Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was to help me remember what my life was like during a particular time and that should include the bad parts too. You learn a lot from the tough times in your life, plus, there are still a lot of good memories during the tough times that I’d like to hold on to.

So, yeah. It’s been kinda rough lately. Recovery from surgery was longer and harder than expected. The ligament attachment to my tibia is non-standard since I had a nail in the way from when I broke it in 2000 so they put in some staples in a different place than they usually would. Unfortunately that leaves a big knot on the side of my knee that hurts like a bitch if it gets pushed on or bothered too much.

I’m trying to get back to my life and feel a lot of pressure to perform well and get research results quickly (by the way the results I’m getting make no sense) because I was out for so long that I keep over doing it an oscillating between feeling pretty great and then hurting real bad for a week or so and not being able to do much which is incredibly frustrating. Then, typically when my knee is already hurting, my neurotic 72 pound dog will get spooked by something and dart past me while body checking me right in the knee or see another dog that she apparently wants to kill in the most brutal way possible and lung on her leash almost pulling me over.

So that’s a quick vent of my frustrations. There have been some good times too though, some of which you’ve already heard about from Amanda while I was M.I.A. We went to a pumpkin patch and went apple picking at a farm about an hour outside of town. Amanda made a delicious apple pie. We did awesome zombie makeup for Halloween.


And Indy thought she was people while sitting on the couch which was very entertainingwpid-20151116_191942.jpg

And we saw a big collection of M.C. Escher’s artwork at the museum. I’m quite sure that there were some other things I wanted to jot down too but my memory sucks which is why I shouldn’t take long breaks from posting!

Oh, I’ve also been speculating on a very entertaining theory with lots of compelling evidence that Jar Jar Binks is a Sith lord who was working in conjunction with Palpatine. Here’s a write up I found that does a great job explaining it:

Anyway, I’ve also been spending long hours in the lab for the last week. I’m collecting a whole lot of data and finishing up a big experiment that will hopefully shed some light on what’s going on with my research project once I get everything plotted and analyzed. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


There’s no good alliteration for ‘busy Thursday’

Just a quick check in to say hi today!

Steve and I both have some pretty packed schedules today, so here are some senior portraits that I took of the dogs yesterday.


Pretty sure this one should be in Indy’s modeling portfolio


The darker the dog, the brighter the reflection (apparently?!?)


A picture is worth 1000 words. Personalities on point.

Seriously look at this crazy…


and then this not-impressed I’m just chillin…


Hope you have a great Thursday!!

Highlight Reel

So if you haven’t noticed yet, 

a new menu has popped up riiiight about there..

See it? It’s the one entitled, Highlight Reel or for those that can’t read, it’s the one on the far right.

We’ve decided that writing a long post with pictures about every day is actually a lot and we don’t take that many pictures.  This results in the blog not getting updated on a schedule and stuff like that.


Enter Highlight Reel. It’s a place where we jot down a sentence, or two, about each day. Maybe even include a picture if we actually did something exciting (not likely, we are poor grad students and exciting things cost money).  This is mostly for us since we have the attention span and short term memory ability of a goldfish and we’d like to actually remember what we did or did not do.

Anywho, it’s definitely still super new so expect the page to look different every time you go there for a little while