Happy #HumpDay ! 🙃 This tweet by @BWiSNetwork has inspired me to chat about my PhD experience, beside the research itself. The pros and cons. Let's start with pros! https://twitter.com/BWiSNetwork/status/1248588867814526976
Pro #1: independence! My project is my own and I choose where my research goes. My supervisors guide and advise me but I make the final decision on what I want to focus on. It's intellectually stimulating and fuelled by my own interests!
Pro #2: variety of work! Because of the multidisciplinary nature of my PhD, no two days are the same. One day I'm running a computer model, the next I'm in the lab. I also help with undergrad teaching - helping others to learn is slowly becoming a passion of mine 😍
As Postgraduate Outreach Rep for @LivUniEarthSci I've been able to support and run outreach activities ranging from running a Spooky Science event with undergrads to inspiring girls to take Maths A-Level #scicomm
Pro #3: training/travel opportunities! My funder @EAO_DTP provide me with a grant which I can use to travel to conferences, do training and much more. Since the start of my PhD I've travelled to France, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands (for work, of course!)
Though Rona (🙄) curbed my travel plans this I cannot complain! But now, onto things I can complain about - the cons!
Con#1: PhDs are personal. Contrary to pro #1, I know. As my "success" is tied to my own work, which I'm personally connected to, every mistake feels perpetuated which makes things feel worse.
I put a lot of pressure on myself and at times feel like I can't separate myself, Louisa, from my PhD. Impostor Syndrome is something I struggle with and feel like I always will.
Con #2: loneliness. I alone know what's really going on in my project. Though I have an amazing department with lots of support, it's still a lonely place. This loneliness is made worse by the fact that I am one of only a few black people in geoscience academia in the UK.
As with all STEM subjects, numbers of black geoscience PhDs are VERY low. I actually don't know anyone else in the UK, shout to @scarlett_jazmin a recent grad! and @seis_matters who was the first black professor I've ever seen, honestly made my day seeing you give a talk! 😊
I'll discuss reasons for that and things we could do about it later. But as someone experiencing this right now, constantly being the only (or one of a few) PoC at a conference right now, it doesn't help things!
Con #3: academia. The nature of academia itself, the result-driven publish-or-perish high-pressure atmosphere can make it a hostile environment. Throw in the additions of short-term contracts, competition for tenure and poor pay, I'm not sure if I'll stay once I've finished 😬
*Please note this list is non-exhaustive* there are so many other pros and cons I could have mentioned but these are my top 3 for both. If you're doing/done a PhD what are your highs and lows?
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