Postdoc highlight series: Dr. Connie (#6)

And just like this, the second season of the Alternative Postdoc Superheroes interview series starts today. We have Dr. Connie from the blog Life of Learning who is a scientist, science communicator and a blogger (obviously).

Enjoy the read!

Quick notes on Connie
NameDr. Connie
Countries she has academic experiences fromCanada
Connie’s typical day:A day in the life working in science communication consists of answering emails and scheduling events in schools and in the community to teach science. I usually also have meetings to discuss how we can create more engaging ways of teaching. I also rely a lot on the generous time from volunteers in order to reach more communities, and so part of my job consists of training volunteers and trying to work out ways to help out our volunteers and give back to them as well! 
Contact Connie at:Insta: life_of_learning
Blog: Life of learning
Facebook:  Life of Learning

Hi Connie! Please introduce yourself briefly?

 I’m Connie (@life_of_learning). I graduated with a PhD studying in Canada. I was a wet lab researcher, working in the lab and conducting experiments trying to identify changes in metabolism.

Currently, I work in science communication. I teach and communicate science to the community and also to teenagers in schools. 

What kind of student/pupil were you as a kid?

Growing up I loved sciences and math and was really curious about how the world worked and how machines worked and this carried throughout my journey through school and graduate school. 

What did you study in your undergrad program?

I studied Sciences! 

Why and how did you decide to go into a PhD?

I had some research experience in my undergraduate degree and wanted to continue.

I was always thinking about how I was so helpless during my childhood when anyone got sick or had an illness that I didn’t know what it was. I wanted to learn more in order to help them as much as I could. 

What was your PhD program experience?

I studied in Canada.

In my particular PhD program, you take courses during your first year. Then if you didn’t take a Masters beforehand, you would start the PhD program as a Masters student. Once you are 2-3 years into your masters you take a comprehensive exam. This was both a written and oral examination. Once you were able to pass this exam you could then transfer into the PhD program.

However, if you failed your comprehensive exam, I believe you only get one more chance at it or you could finish and graduate with just your Masters degree.

To graduate with a PhD degree, after passing the comprehensive exam, you had to demonstrate that you have completed enough research to write a PhD thesis and typically this takes 3-4 additional years.

In the program that I studied in, the average length of the PhD program is ~6 years. Once you have demonstrated that you had enough research and competencies to fill out a PhD thesis, you were then given permission to write up.

Once you have written your PhD thesis and your advisory committee deems it satisfactory, you could then send off your thesis to an external examiner, defend your thesis and then graduate!! 

What is the hardest in doing what you are doing and how do you deal with that?

The fear of failing.

It’s so defeating when you don’t achieve what you had set out to do.

It’s tough but I remind myself that failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s a learning process and it’s normal to be failing or making mistakes, it’s more about how we learn from them. 

Are there any tools, resources or software you are obsessed with at the moment or were obsessed
while doing your PhD?

I loved using trello during my PhD. It really helped me organize projects and it has categories so that you can identify your to do list but also what you are working on currently, and what you have done. 

What are your future plans, upcoming projects, what is next?

I’m currently working on my Instagram and hoping to provide more advice and any content requests are welcome!

I would love to hear about what you want to see!! Let me know.

I currently work in science communication and have a writing project coming up. I may have some posts on writing advice and organization advice soon! 

What advice would you give your younger self starting a PhD program?

Remember that learning is definitely a journey. Remember to enjoy the journey as well! 

Where people can find you?

@Insta: life_of_learning

Blog: Life of Learning

Facebook:  Life of Learning

Thank you!

If you are interested to read more stories of (postdoc) bloggers, you may want to check these out:

Postdoc highlight series: Dr. Brianna Le Busque (#5)

Postdoc highlight series: Dr. Chantal Lucini (#1)

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