Presentation anxiety…

…by Doireann / from Ireland / studying PhD Precision Medicine / 2nd Year

 

This year I was unusually reluctant to say farewell to February, for two main reasons: March brings the first anniversary of the original COVID lockdown; and if you consider Monday to be the first day of the week, February was a perfect month, beginning with a Monday and concluding on a Sunday, creating a perfectly rectangular monthly calendar.

For me, the tail end of February brought extra anxiety and stress as my first big PhD presentation loomed around the corner – the Research in Progress (aptly abbreviated to RIP). Those who know me would correctly tell you I’d prefer to catch COVID than present anything, even at lab group meetings. So the prospect of a department-wide presentation lead me to seriously consider getting on a plane and never returning, or wonder how I might contract something that would put me in a week-long coma that would conveniently overlap with my presentation date.

Alas, it was not to be. However, to my surprise, I ended up almost enjoying the presentation. One of the benefits of the COVID era is that the presentations are now online, so instead of presenting to an auditorium filled with people, I could simply look at my slides and talk to myself and pretend no-one else was listening. A presentation on my 1.5-year-old project wasn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to achieve, and it was surprising to me to find that it was hard to fit everything I’ve done into 20 minutes. Facing questions from PIs from across the entire department was a daunting prospect, but it surprised me to see that I did actually know the answers (retrospectively, it shouldn’t have been surprising given that the PhD has been my life for 18 months). Back in pre-COVID times, RIPs concluded with wine and chats with friends from across the department; however, my celebrations had to be more muted, and I treated myself to a takeaway and a milkshake (it was a special occasion, after all!), and a very long nap.

In my last blog, I wrote that I started playing more video games. This month I bought a Wii, a console that was released way back in 2006. The main motivator behind this purchase was the prospect of playing Wii Sports – since we haven’t been able to go out and play most sports for nearly a year now, this would be the next best thing! Virtually punching your flatmate does remarkable things for stress relief.

My next month will be quite important for my project, as I’ll be determining the best way of generating samples. I’m also quite excited to get started working on some analysis of clinical data of IBD patients, which I hope to eventually supplement with the data from my lab work. The highlight of my month could be adopting some spider plants from a friend – very exciting times ahead!

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