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January 31, 2016

#PhDin2016: January Re-cap

Selfie taken at 5pm Wednesday — just after finishing
my Methods chapter!
One month down, four to go!

If you caught my post earlier this month, you know that I've started my doctoral dissertation and will be here blogging about my progress and challenges at the end of each month.

Here's how January went.

What I Did:


My first task — and I mean TASK! — was getting the formatting down. I basically have the entire skeleton for the document with proper font, headings, line spacing, bolding, italics, page numbering etc. etc. etc. in all the right places. That took a solid two hours one afternoon (mostly because creating sections for page numbers in Word always turns out to be a minor nightmare, no matter how many times I've done it). I've been referring to the dissertation style guide constantly because I don't want to submit this dang thing for review and be told I did something completely wrong. Best get it down now, right? The title page is rather snazzy.

January 14, 2016

Should I Stay Up an Extra Hour Being Productive, or Give Myself an Extra Hour of Sleep?

It’s every student’s dilemma. Should you keep studying and delay your bedtime, or shut the books and hit the hay?

My little stinker of a cat, Yoshi, understands the
importance of sleep.
In college, I regularly stayed up until midnight or 1am studying and writing lab reports, even though my alarm went off at 5 each morning for rowing practice. It was always so tempting to stay up late when there was just so much work to be done. So much work, all the time.

Although running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep in college let me finish a lot studying, I was sleepy. I found myself nodding off during class, eating more food to keep myself awake, and I became more susceptible to catching colds. I found it harder to study because I hadn’t paid attention well in class. On occasion, I didn’t do as well on tests as I would have liked to. Sometimes I even found myself being short-tempered toward my friends.

Sound familiar?

These days, after working in a sleep research laboratory for the past four years and becoming intimately acquainted with what the research says about sleep curtailment, I am much more inclined to shut the books, close my laptop, and crawl into bed.

In short, there are literally no benefits – none, zip, zero, nada – to depriving oneself of necessary sleep.

Read the rest of this at Beasts, Unburdened  here. Beasts, Unburdened is a community of future veterinarians who come together to discuss challenges they face in their journey. If you or someone you know is a veterinary student, follow the blog! It's run by my brother, and he's pretty cool.

January 10, 2016

What Explains the Allure of Adult Coloring Books?

Lea Latumahina (Creative Commons)
A few months ago, I caved: I bought myself a coloring book.

And maybe you did, too, or perhaps you received one as a gift for the holidays. According to a recent Fortune article, adult coloring books are one of the biggest contributors to this year’s boost in print-book sales. With over 11,000 search results total, five of Amazon’s current top 15 best-selling books are coloring books.

A few nights a week, I look forward to curling up on the couch with my ever-growing collection of colored pencils, tuning in to the latest episode of Serial, and scribbling away at mandalas and Harry Potters — but I still find the trend strange.

I’ve always had a penchant for making new things from scratch — painting, knitting, writing, drawing, baking. But with my coloring book, I’m not really creating anything. The designs are already on the page — I’m just filling in the white spots. And yet the activity is just as soothing to my mind as my more traditionally “creative” hobbies. So what is the psychological draw of a task that feels creative, but doesn’t actually involve creating anything new?

Read the rest of this at New York Magazine's Science of Us here.

January 3, 2016

Ringing in 2016, PhD-Style: The Year of the Dissertation

Exciting news, brainiacs! Starting this month, I'll be outlining and beginning to write my dissertation, which I'm aiming to defend in late May. I'm simultaneously dreading it and chomping at the bit to get started. Wish me luck!

In order to accomplish this intimidating, but necessary, last step of my education, a few changes to the blog will be taking place over the next few months: