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About FishNerd

  • Rank
    Double Shot

Profile Information

  • Interests
    Aquatic systems and organisms - molecular ecology and evolutionary genomics
  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Biology (Ecology and Evolution) PhD

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  1. @fuzzylogician That is definitely something I probably could have done a better job of before writing, but I did try to outline the main points and group them in a way that seemed logical before I started writing. I definitely didn't start my discussion without some sort of plan but it seems that the plan I had may not have been the best. I think I will try to pull out the main points of it all and see where ideas/conclusions get repeated and see how I could restructure them to condense those scattered ideas. Yesterday I was really struggling with this (hence this post) but already today I think I have more ideas on how to tackle the structural issues. Obviously the revision process takes time, since coming at things with fresh eyes helps a lot and, unfortunately, I did probably hurt myself in not having the clearest plan on how to address all the points I wanted to cover in my discussion.
  2. @rising_star My university does have a writing center but I'm not sure how many people specialize with working with grad students since the grad student body at my school is pretty small. I can definitely ask though to see if that could be a possibility. I hadn't actually thought of that! Thank you!
  3. @fuzzylogician thank you so much for the great advice! I've gotten a lot better at not using the extra adverbs and adjectives but I definitely use hedges (also thank you for informing me as to what that type of phrasing is referred to as!). I have been doing my best to catch those when editing. And the little stuff like that isn't the part that I think I struggle with. Instead restructuring ideas and sentences seems to be where I get hung up on. My advisor and I have discussed the main points of my thesis and I think I've done a decent job of conveying these during my Introduction, Methods and Results but I think I needed some more structural tips for the Discussion and I didn't get a lot of those. She said my Discussion content is solid, I just have it organized to where certain ideas definitely get repeated, just in new contexts. I think most of my redundancy right now is structural, so I have to figure out which paragraphs can be condensed/reordered to streamline and remove redundancy. What software reads writing aloud for you? I have heard it was a thing but I hadn't looked more into it. I think I benefit from hearing someone else say rather than hearing myself. I also definitely plan on re-reading discussions from papers I have really enjoyed and use them as inspiration during the revision process. @hats thank you!! Also I was very aware that during my post and even my title I was likely being a bit too wordy... Oops lol. Yes, when I or someone else reads my work aloud if there is a stumble or I get lost during a sentence I am sure to revise that sentence. Also I definitely have found that leaving writing for 3+ days (sometimes I need a week or so even) helps me see the flaws of my own writing a bit more clearly. I hadn't thought about handwriting my writing to help with the editing process. I will definitely have to try that. As for "burying the lede" what do you mean by that? I think I understand it by when you say you have to find your topic sentences and move them to the top of your paragraph. Is there somewhere I can find an example of this? A comment my advisor made to me makes me think I might also have a tendency to do this so I think I need a concrete example of how this problem might look. Maybe I will go to Google and see if that gets me anywhere. Thanks so much to both of you! You've given awesome suggestions that I will definitely keep in mind during the revision stage.
  4. Hey all! I've been really struggling with editing the discussion of my Master's thesis (in biology) that is unfortunately quite redundant at times. I have never found editing to be so draining before and I was wondering if any of you all on here had tips on how to edit a piece of your own writing for redundancy to help streamline and condense the writing overall? At times I really struggle with seeing why the way I have written something needs to be fixed since the way I wrote it still makes sense to me in my head. Reading my writing aloud helps a lot but it doesn't always help me catch stuff. My advisor and partner help me a lot in improving something I have written but their comments can only go so far since it is ultimately up to me to make the changes. I've also not ever struggled so much with redundancy before but this discussion is a style of writing that I don't have as much practice with. Overall, I just struggle with being concise and getting to the point with the fewest words in the most logical order so that the writing doesn't go too long. Any tips on how to work on these things or how to make the editing process in general not quite so draining?
  5. 2018 EEB Applicants: Profiles, Results, etc

    @Vaudevillain Yes it actually was the University of Denver I visited! I really like the fit there. The department is super encouraging of a good work-life balance, and is super enthusiastic and passionate about its research, which is very refreshing compared to my current academic environment. Also I'm super pumped by the research I would be doing and the advisors I'd be working with! Also I think I would love the area. My only hesitancy is that the stipend is pretty low compared to cost of living in the area (mainly because rent is ridiculous in Denver from what I can find). And Denver's stipend is also just about half of the amount that I would receiving as a stipend at the University of Arkansas... So it's hard because I feel like overall fit there is better but I would probably be pretty strapped financially at Denver (though I am lucky that I have some savings that would probably get me through rough financial times). As for thesis stuff I am super close to being done (everything is written). But I am in the editing phase which can be super draining. Especially since my advisor's comments are always negative. I mean I know they are just trying to improve it but is it so wrong of me to want some positive feedback at times... I know they have positive things to say about it but apparently it just isn't their style to really verbalize those positive comments much. Also one of my lab mates is also trying to finish and my advisor told me that my lab mate is a great writer and they have never said anything like that about my writing... Ughhh... My advisor probably didn't mean that statement to sound that way, but my insecurity about writing sure seized onto that statement. Sorry for the rant... I hopped on here to take a break from editing and needed to vent apparently.
  6. First off, I think that you should probably see if the PhD program requires you to have obtained a master's for one of their requirements for admission. If so, then I really think that you will need to finish your thesis before starting in the fall... But you would still be able to potentially finish your thesis before the end of this summer and graduate in the summer if you can do that at your current school. I'm not really sure I have any answers/advice to your other questions (though some people do transfer schools during grad school so being treated as a transfer student could maybe be a possibility?). Okay, I am gonna say that I do agree that it is kind of a "dick move" as you put it to leave your thesis director hanging, especially since they seem like they might have been influential in your acceptance to this PhD program... Not only that, but personally I am always super hesitant to do anything that could burn bridges in academia since those connections could greatly help with obtaining a job after PhD... I do recognize that things happen that can be a huge impediment to people finishing degrees, but not finishing should be something you should really think through. It seems that you are very aware that not finishing your thesis is un-ideal so maybe you're kind of answering your own question as to not finish? I definitely felt like quitting at times during my Master's thesis and I took longer than I expected (3 years), so I understand maybe feeling burned out and ready for something new because that is definitely where I am right now. But if you have already put so many years into this degree it really would be a shame to leave it unfinished (however, this is my own personal stance on my master's myself where I have always told myself I don't quit things once I have committed so much time and effort to them). Also if you did accept this PhD offer it could be a great motivator to help you finish up. How much is left to do to finish your thesis? Because if its mainly at the writing stage I think you could do that in time to do a summer graduation (as long as that option is available to you). It would be a time crunch but it could be feasible. And if you do finish your thesis and do a good job on it then you will likely have one more product that you can put towards publication and that will look great on your CV. I would also be concerned as to how you would detail those 3 years on a CV/talk about a conspicuous 3 year gap on your CV during future job interviews. Lastly, is there an option for you to maybe graduate with your MA, but without having completed a thesis? Or is a thesis required of you for graduation? I'm not sure how much of what I said holds any weight because I am in the same level of academia right now, but I do think the problems you are aware of are big ones and I don't think you should discount them.
  7. Finishing undergrad research during first year of PhD

    So I was in the middle of a project that I started in my undergraduate when I started my Master's and while I kept up with it for about a year (we were in data collection stage) it is still not finished... The reason it is not finished though is because my undergrad research advisor didn't really have the funding to keep the project going. So I think my situation is completely different from yours, from what it sounds like. From everything I've ever heard it can be very difficult keeping up with a project when you are living elsewhere and starting a new project, but I really don't think its impossible, especially if all the data is collected or close to being collected by the time you leave. After that I think the most important thing is that you don't let the project/publication fall off your radar. When you are in a new environment it is easy to forget about lingering things outside of that new bubble you are in. Since you have been such a big part of this project I do think it is worth your time to try and remain a part of it as best as you can until it gets published. You should also clarify with your advisor your question of authorship. While first authorship is great for your CV, if you are going to a coauthor rather than first author that might make it easier for you, because once you start your new program the only thing you may be responsible for are maybe some further analyses and revisions of the manuscript once its put together (of course this is based off of my somewhat limited knowledge of publication... some people have their coauthors write sections of the paper instead of just having them revise). Honestly if you are first author and have to write the manuscript for publication that is going to be a lot harder to follow through on with your new responsibilities than what you would need to do as a coauthor. What I think would benefit you most is to sit down with your current advisor and ask what expectations they want of you on this project going forward. Express your concerns about juggling your new responsibilities with the things you need to finish this project up. You all can then maybe create a plan of what you need to do for the project when you move away (this will likely be easier to do right before you move to your new program). I'm sure your advisor will understand all of this and help get together a plan of action to get this research project done and published!
  8. 2018 EEB Applicants: Profiles, Results, etc

    So I finally heard something back from UMass during the first half of March but it was just an email from my potential PI there asking if I was still interested in her lab and if I was we could chat about the status of my application. My partner didn't get accepted to his program at UMass so I kindly told my PI that I was going to be choosing between my other two options and she was very kind in response (told me it was great that I had found a good fit elsewhere). But in her email she didn't say what the status of my acceptance/rejection was there and she said I would get something back about that eventually. Considering I have yet to hear anything further from there I assume that I could have been on an unofficial waitlist for my program maybe? It doesn't matter to me at this point but I am curious as to what the official status of my application there was/is... As for my decisions between my other two schools I have visited one of the two and that visit was fantastic. My other visit is at the end of next week, so I'm really trying to stay neutral-ish on my position (though I'm heavily leaning towards the school I've already visited) until I visit the second school. But this is all very stressful because between now and April 15th I have to make this decision, get an acceptable version of my thesis to my committee, give my 45 minute seminar and defend. I don't know how I haven't collapsed under the stress of all I have to do in the next couple weeks... So I too will likely be waiting til mid-April to make my final decision @Vaudevillain, unless the second visit really makes it clear where I should go...
  9. Share Experiences Living on a Stipend

    So during my Master's my take home was pretty minimal (~$10,000 a year) but I did make it work okay. My school though is located in a smaller city in the South so cost of living was pretty low and I lucked out in getting rent that was only $545 a month (for a fairly spacious apartment). Also I did have additional financial help from my parents. My car insurance and phone bill was paid by my parents and I was and still am on my parent's health insurance. I had no car payments on my car since I paid in full for it before I started my Master's. But outside of those things I paid for everything else: car maintenance (though mine was minimal since I have a relatively new car with few miles), food, rent, utilities, streaming services, etc. I also did split a lot of these costs with my partner. He was also on a similar stipend as me. We lived in the city our master's institution was in so we had to cover our costs year round. Overall, money was very tight and we didn't have a ton of expendable income, but we were always able to pay our big expenses. We did eat out quite a bit because we were terrible about making time for cooking, but we rarely ate out anywhere very expensive (those types of restaurants were treats/splurges to us). We have two cats and have been able to cover any costs they need, though we were lucky that we only had to pay a one time deposit on them and no monthly rent. But we paid for that deposit and vet check ups/shots yearly, and of course food. They are even on pricey food now since one of them is allergic to fillers found in pet food. We were also able to buy ourselves new clothes when we desperately needed them and also keep our book/comic reading going too (though these were purchases that didn't occur frequently). Other people in my program who lived alone or didn't manage their money super well had to sign up for food stamps though to get by on the small stipends we got. But my partner and I always tried to manage our money relatively well and we were able to get by, though having help from our parents for the costs I mention above definitely helped tremendously.
  10. Prestige for PhD Programs/Job Outlook?

    I personally don't worry about prestige too much since I'm not planning on trying to get a tenure-track position in a top program when I graduate with my PhD, but I'm not sure how much prestige is important in industry jobs (this is how I read your post, forgive me if I misinterpreted) such as biotech - is there a professor/someone in your current (undergrad/masters) program you can ask about how prestige matters in biotech job acquisition? I am very heavily weighing environment fit into my decision - are the professors and students in the program enthusiastic and positive about their research? Does work-life balance in the program align to what I would like to have during my doctoral training? Do I feel as if I would have a good relationship with my advisor? Etc. I'm weighing these things heavily because environment goes a long way in making people happy and content which is much more conducive to a positive grad school experience. A positive grad school experience will go a long way in making you productive and happy during your time there. Also as to location of a school in a biotech hub I think this could matter? But mainly it matters if your professors in the program you attend have connections to those local biotech companies around their university. This seems to be likely for people in universities near the hubs, but that isn't to say that programs far away geographically from the biotech hubs couldn't also have connections you could network with for potential jobs after grad school.
  11. Advice from those with masters degrees?

    I have to agree that it really seems like you are most excited about UNT and I think excitement about the research and environment can go a long way in making grad school enjoyable and worthwhile. As someone who has taken 3 years to get my Master's I think their rationale of having that first year to adjust and figure out research concentration is a solid one. I knew I wanted to do grad school and that first year really was an adjustment for me. While my program wasn't built for 3 years necessarily there is flexibility in finish date and since I took a bit to figure out how to adjust to grad school I was able to do that my first year and then concentrate more on my thesis my last 2 years when I knew what I was doing better. Also having the 3 full years means that I have really done a lot to make my thesis very thorough and (hopefully) highly publishable. I also will be getting more publications than planned because of my extra year at my Master's institution. I will be graduating with my Master's at 25 and I don't really think that is old at all for that degree, especially since my program cohort had a majority of students who were older than me. I applied and have been accepted to PhD programs for this fall and I doubt I will be that much older (if older at all?) than other students who will be starting. So if you have any more questions for doing a 3 year Master's and finishing it around 25, feel free to ask me.
  12. Research vs Environment

    Yeah research fit is what I keep coming back to as well which is why I'm so excited by my School A! Maybe I will be just as excited by the research at School B when I visit and flesh out what I will be doing there a bit more, but as of right now I really really want to do the research at School A. I ultimately am in science for the research and not money, so while the money at School B is freaking phenomenal, if I really feel like I'm gonna like the research at School A much better I think I'm gonna go for that. But I guess I have to wait until I visit School B to know for sure about my decision.
  13. Research vs Environment

    Ugghhhh I am in a similar, but also different, situation between my choices. I mean it's great that I have options, but my indecisive nature is definitely going to be a detriment in this decision process. School A I have already visited and while when I initially left the visit I felt like I didn't feel any different from before I went, now that I have had time to process it I am really excited and please with what I observed on my visit. They also really emphasize a good work-life balance like your school A, @singinglupines. This is a big appeal to me because I almost feel like my current environment (at my master's) made me feel guilty for doing anything for fun ever... I would love to be able to plan fun things to do without feeling guilty about it and I know I could have that there. Also research and advisor fit there is fantastic. Overall, the people in School A's department seem like a great crowd to be around which would be a welcome change from the fairly negative people that are in my current program. For the specific subfield I am hoping to go into I think I might have the best opportunities for experience and knowledge in this subfield at School A. The location is fantastic and I would be able to experience a lot of new things that I never have before and I really want to gain some new life experiences during my PhD. However, cost of living is high and the stipend I am guaranteed each year is not a lot compared to cost of living. So I worry that the experiences I would want to have at this place could be limited from the amount of money I am making... Okay so School B I have not yet visited so it's really hard to be as excited about it but.... I have been awarded a fantastic fellowship there that would mean I would be making almost double at School B than I would at School A. Also cost of living is much lower, so I would probably be putting a lot of money into savings... Maybe I shouldn't be comparing yet until I visit School B but its hard not to and unfortunately I won't be visiting School B until the end of the month, ugh. I feel like my advisor at School B could be great but I haven't yet met him, though my interactions thus far have been fantastic. I do worry about research fit though - mainly because I think the project I could be doing there is a lot more abstract in my mind since I haven't talked it through one-on-one with my advisor yet. However, my advisor doesn't have experience in the subfield I want to gain more experience in so I would have to find that experience in someone else in the department and those someone else's are still an unknown entity currently. I also don't yet known how work-life balance and personalities in the department are there yet. As for the location of this school I definitely think I could be very happy there but it is similar to past areas I have lived in so I don't think I would be gaining as many new experiences at School B than at School A. Though if I am making enough to save money conceivably I could pay to take myself to places to have those experiences. I'm just very uncertain about research fit currently at School B mostly though. So ultimately I am struggling most with how much to factor in a very cushy stipend in at School B, vs. what appears to be awesome research and environment at School A. Maybe I should just try to keep it out of my mind until I visit School B, but it is so hard not to think about considering I need to think it through since I am terribly indecisive. Ultimately though like you @singinglupines I keep swinging back and forth, and currently my pendulum is swung towards School A since I have visited there and they've gave me their program pitch and everything.
  14. I totally understand not wanting to offend your professor, but if you absolutely do not want to attend the program at your current institution because you already know you've been accepted to a place you would rather attend, I do not think you should worry about getting this application to your current institution in. It would be a waste of your money and time, and I am sure that if you tell this professor that you've been accepted to your top choices with funding (rather than just hint at this), she will understand completely. Thank her for all her help in the application process too. I think most professors understand taking the offer you dreamed of, so I really doubt doing this will ruin your relationship with her.
  15. 2018 EEB Applicants: Profiles, Results, etc

    I was actually planning on writing down a pros and cons list of each place so that's nice to hear that helped you in making your decisions between your technician jobs. And I will for sure be talking it through with many different people and hearing their opinions I'm sure. It's particularly hard right now I think because I have only visited one school so it's easy to be super excited for that school, but I do need to visit the other school before I can make a full assessment of each school. Also my partner has visited the school I haven't yet visited, but hasn't visited the one I have - so he's super excited for the one he's already visited. It's a weird place to be, especially since I need to finish my thesis up ASAP...