Saturday, 26 May 2018

Review: February 2018

Very long time no see but here I am since exams are finally over, to record what little I can remember of the past few months. 

COLLEGE: In February I had 4 modules going on: Genetics, Microbiology, Behaviour and Statistics. I really liked some parts of Genetics and wasn't as interested in others, didn't like Microbiology at all, found Behaviour OK but sometimes boring, and loved the idea of Statistics but definitely did not like the way it was taught as our questions weren't answered and the lectures and homeworks were very theoretical whereas the exam was quite practical and seemed very different to the lecture material. Anyway, I'll have a post up on each module in a bit.

STUDY: I was doing a bit of study for the exams by this point and made an Excel spreadsheet with my plan to do a chapter of extra reading from some textbook each night up to exams (I ended up sticking to it quite well). Unfortunately because of Schols and getting straight back into studying I never really got a break and was quite burnt out and unhappy through second semester.  

SUMMER JOB: I was really trying to sort out my summer job by this point. Ideally I wanted to do research but I at least needed to get something because y'know, I gotta eat and have accommodation. I reapplied to work where I worked last summer, and made a long list of pharma companies to ring to apply to. I also emailed Trinity Careers service asking them to put me in touch with one nearby company that only interacts with students through their Careers service, but they were unhelpful and just said Trinity doesn't do that. Another email was to the Senior Tutor asking what to do since some jobs wanted a letter from my college tutor but my one said she doesn't write recommendation letters, her job is just to get me through college, and didn't get a reply. 

BUT things ended up great on the summer job front overall -- I'd been put in touch with Prof. Aoife McLysaght, a very awesome genetics professor in Trinity, by Dr. Shane Bergin who I know from conferences and things, back in November, and we'd arranged to meet in February. I was super scared of the meeting as I thought it'd be typical businessy interview questions like 'talk about a time you solved a problem' or 'tell me why I should hire you' which I find really difficult and nervewracking, but it was brilliant! I just went in and we sat on couches and talked about biology! Apparently it was impressive that I'd 'read and understood' her papers, I kinda thought that was the bare minimum but yeah it was great and we just had a really fun conversation talking about biology so I wasn't even nervous, and then she said she'd be happy to have me! She also got me an exemption to be allowed do genetics without the prerequisites just because she thought it'd suit me!

Towards the end of the month I applied for funding for it from the Wellcome Trust with Aoife's help. 

CODING: I worked on my programming skills by doing a course in R on DataCamp. Did you know R uses <- instead of = as the assignment operator? Weird. I'm certainly not fluent in R but I did learn enough to use it to check bits of my Stats homework for the rest of the semester (because R is a stats language). 

CHEMISTRY BROAD CURRICULUM: That bloody group project continued into March (imagine a 14-person group project that lasts 6 months) with the presentations. Our team, which was doing the Chemistry of Solar Panels, made it through the semi-finals (which were actually very good, I was really impressed by everyone's presentations, they were genuinely interesting even though I heavily dislike Chemistry) and into the finals, where unfortunately we didn't place (there were some significant technical issues and other things at the start). Surprisingly I did win one of the Best Speaker prizes and also got a goodie bag for being Secretary. The goodie bag contained, oddly, several types of glue: superglue, Pritt Stick, sellotape...

READING: I finished reading Behave, the tome on all the (neurological, evolutionary, psychological, cultural..) reasons for human behaviour by Robert Sapolsky, and What Makes Biology Unique by Ernst Mayr. 

SNOWSTORM: Towards the end of the month and into March, Storm Emma and the Beast from the East arrived and we got a Red Weather Warning and had to stay inside as the whole country went into lockdown from 4 pm! It was very exciting and also very pretty seeing the blizzards from the comfort of inside.

Here's a photo of our balcony and the ground below covered in snow. The shape there is an empty Quality Street box we left out there that got filled to the brim with snow and was icy for ages afterwards.

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