Judgement Day

Okay, not quite. I’m not defending (yet). But I am having a big meeting with my committee to talk about what I’ve done and what I have left to do. I’m both excited to finally have it (and hopefully get some clarity) but also terrified as to what they’re going to say.

I think my biggest “nemesis” during my PhD has been this elusive “bar” of being done. No one has ever been able to really define it in any meaningful way. It means you’ve contributed “enough.” Ugh. What does that mean.

In preparation for this meeting, my supervisor informed me that there are two ways of determining if you’ve met the bar (or, more precisely, two ways he finds acceptable). The first, is that the supervisor declares you’ve me it. And the second is that you ask your committee. We’re going with the second. And my supervisor has told me he’s really not sure himself, so he’s not going to be arguing in this meeting that I’m already at (or past) the bar. Now, he’s not going to be arguing against it either – he just plans on listening and seeing what they say. Which means my future is in the hands of two people who I don’t know well enough to predict what they’ll say.

Then, of course, to muddle things even further, I ran into another prof on campus who asked about my progress (aren’t you done yet?). And in my short discussion with him, after hearing how many experiments I’ve run, he was quite insistent that “that was enough.” Of course, he’s not on my committee, so his answer really holds no real weight (except to get my hopes up).

But, in preparation for my meeting tomorrow, I did have to re-visit all the experiments I’ve run (5 different ones, 7 times). And I had to start thinking about what the contributions are. I’m really not good at selling myself. So this was one of those times it was really good to meet with my supervisor so he could help out on listing them. And at the end, we came up with a final list of eight unique items. Some are specific quantitative results from experiments and some are qualitative and some are just lessons learned. The question now, is how many of those my committee find important, and whether their total passes this elusive bar.


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