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Blog Roundtable: Graduate School!

October 28, 2011

Halloween and Graduate School (courtesy http://www.phdcomics.com)

As a graduate student, you get a lot of people asking you about what graduate school is, and what it entails. Is it worth it? How difficult is it? And once you’re in, the questions don’t stop – if anything, they multiply! How do you pick a supervisor? How do you deal with rejection? What do you do next?

I crowdsourced the internet for questions – among Twitter followers, other blogs and forums and came up with a list of questions. I also invited several prominent bloggers to participate. They have all graciously agreed to donate their time and effort to this piece.

Note that these are the opinions of those involved, and do not reflect our institutions or departments in any way. I’m trying to get a range of viewpoints here, and many different perspectives. If you disagree or have something you’d like to add, please feel free to comment either here or when we answer a question you’re particularly passionate about!

After the jump: The Panel! And The Questions!

So without further ado, let me introduce the panel!

The Panel!

Travis Saunders (twitter, website) is a PhD Candidate in Ottawa, Canada.  His research focuses on the relationship between sedentary behaviour and chronic disease risk in children and youth.  He blogs about obesity and physical activity at Obesity Panacea.

Morgan Craig-Broadwith (twitter, website) recently completed her M.Sc. in Exercise Physiology at Queen’s University. Following the completion of her degree, Morgan started up her own health promotion consultancy, Live It Active, which assists businesses in the development and implementation of wellness programs for their employees. Morgan loves to keep active and recently became a certified Zumba instructor (and is LOVING it).

Tim Brown (twitter, websiteLinkedIn, Material Physics Group Website) did his Physics undergrad at the University of Alberta, and his Masters and PhD with the Materials Physics Group at Queen’s University. Tim is currently a Postdoctoral research fellow with the Materials Physics group, funded by the Mitacs Elevate Program. Tim’s research speciality is the design, fabrication, and characterization of nanostructured coatings with nanoporosity. Tim’s other interests include: swing dancing, curling, cooking, gardening, and jokes/humour involving math and science.

Megan Carter (twitter, website) is PhD student in Population Health at the University of Ottawa, with a background in epidemiology and dietetics. Her research focuses on understanding the link between place and the development of obesity among children. If she had to label herself it would probably be ‘social epidemiologist’ and ‘perpetual student.’

EpiGrad (twitter, website) is an infectious disease epidemiologist currently in his 5th year of graduate school, closing in on his proposal defense. His research interests are wide and varied, but generally surround the use of mathematical models or more sophisticated statistical methods in situations where traditional observational epidemiology methods may not be appropriate. He’s active on Twitter, the CrossValidated Stack Exchange site (http://stats.stackexchange.com/) and his blog at www.confounding.net.

Penny Deck (twitter, website) received her BA/BPHE Queen’s University, before doing her MSc at Simon Fraser University. She is currently a PhD student at Simon Fraser University. She lectures in nutrition, health, physiology, and obesity. Her research interests include complexity, systems thinking and obesity, primarily as related to behaviour change. She is also passionate about mountain biking.

Atif (me!) (twitter) is a PhD Student at Queen’s University. I also did my M.Sc at Queen’s University, and prior to that, studied caterpillars at Carleton University in Ottawa. My research interests are on social forces surrounding childhood obesity among Canadian Youth. When I’m not blogging or doing my PhD, I’m also a photographer and the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Obesity Network – Students and New Professionals organization.

Bulk Barn is a great ally of graduate students everywhere... (courtesy http://www.phdcomics.com)

Now that you’ve met the panel, here are the questions and the dates each post will go up! Basically, it’s every Monday and Friday through the month of November. And remember: you can sign up to be an email subscriber to have this automagically sent to you every morning!

The Questions!

October 31st: 

Why did you go to graduate school?

November 4th:

What are the things that are important when picking your adviser/PI? What about your committee?

November 7th:

How have you/do you deal with criticism and rejection; be it from advisers, professors, peers or funding committees? How did you deal with rejection when you were applying to schools?

November 11th:

Are there tips for fighting impostor syndrome? (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome)

November 14th:

What if things aren’t going so well? What advice do you have for those who might having a tough time – either juggling multiple commitments, losing interest or falling behind?

November 18th:

Is doing a Masters and PhD at the same school frowned upon? What about undergrad/Masters/PhD?

November 21st:

What has surprised you so far about the grad school experience? In which cases did it meet your expectations and when did it fail to do so? (i.e. How is graduate school life different to undergraduate life?)

November 25th:

What does it take to be a successful graduate student? Are there any last minute tips/advice/inspirational words you have for budding graduate students?

And that’s it!! I’ll have those posts up on Mondays and Fridays through the month of November. If there are any other questions you have, please do not hesitate to let me know, and please feel free to comment in the articles. I really hope for this to be very interactive, and would love to hear your comments about each of the questions.

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