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Following the highs and lows of a new PhD student making her way in the world of organic chemistry...

PhD Interrupted

Some of you may know that my Other Passion (aside from organic synthesis) is classical equitation, which is basically horseriding but with fancy dressage moves on rather well bred Portugese horses. This recently resulted in me being booted off a highly-strung Lusitano gelding in the middle of a canter pirouette and making a right mess of my collarbone. It broke in three places, and I had to wait a few days for the right surgeon, so they finally got round to fixing it last week. I have a shiny new £500 titanium plate and a few screws holding all the bits together. The whole hospital experience was rather grim, but I’ll rant about that somewhere else. The question is, what happens next?

The drawback with organic chemistry is that (unlike dressage) you need two hands to do it. One of mine is in a sling for the next three weeks and needs another two weeks of rest after that plus a raft of physio before I can really use it. At the moment I can’t actually lift it. It will be a while before I have the energy and lack of pain required for a full day at work anyway, and since I can’t cycle/drive and there’s no bus, I’ll have to walk to uni every day. Walking hurts.  I’m in the second year of my PhD, and I have some decent results so it isn’t a total disaster, but what can I actually occupy myself with for the next month?

My initial thought, which echoed the Head of Department’s, was that it would be a great chance to write some thesis, particularly the introduction and experimental so far. A load of reading would also be really useful. I can type with my left hand ok, although a bit slowly, so it’s possible. But this does not directly benefit my supervisor. He has essentially lost one of his lab slaves worker bees which means reduced output for papers. The only way I can be useful to him is to write a publishable review, which coincidentally I’ve already done (see January’s Chem Soc Rev). So whose priorities are more important? Am I his worker or is he my PhD supervisor? Thesis or review? Or both?

I'm catching up with him on Tuesday to find out...
Posted by Polly-Anna Ashford on May 25, 2012 7:51 PM GMT

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