Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Itching to Get Going Already

So far, this semester has been really heavy on the teaching assistant duties and classes, and not so heavy on the getting my research established. I'm sure it's my fault: maybe it's a time management thing, or an "I don't know what to do" thing, or an "I don't know what I CAN do" thing.

I'm still in the mindset of being in a master's program, where I have to do research and a project, but it can't be something too involved because I only have a couple years to get it done. I have 4+ years to do a dissertation. That's an appreciably longer time to do something.

My lack of research so far isn't for lack of ideas. I have an overabundance of ideas; but, I don't know if they are any good. I desperately need to meet with my adviser and see what she thinks, because I don't want to waste a bunch of time on something that won't work. All I know is, if I don't start something soon, I'm going to start feeling discouraged, and that won't improve the situation.

Recently I got the big idea that I want to do field work. I got into paleontology through working in caves, and that's really where I want to keep working. If I do this, I'll have to establish my own field site, ideally somewhere in the Southwest. This could be awesome, but it is going to take a lot of funding, manpower, and paperwork to get it to work. I already have a general place in mind, but what I really need to do is develop a relationship with cavers to see where I should specifically look.

I also want to do some work with stable isotopes and mammal teeth. Without going into too much detail, it would involve developing and fine tuning a new method of sample preparation. This is totally appropriate for a PhD, since I need to be doing stuff that is new and useful. But yet, I'm still in this mindset that I can't do anything "too difficult" or "too time consuming" because those were things I needed to worry about with my master's degree. But from what I know about PhD students and their projects, research is always difficult and time consuming.

So why do I feel like all my ideas will never work? Probably because I've never done this before, so I have no clue what is good or bad. I need guidance! Ahhhhh!

Which is why I am going to track down my adviser this week, even if it means posting myself outside of her office.

I also need to figure out a way to support myself and NOT be a teaching assistant. It just takes up too much time. I like teaching, but ultimately, I'm here to do research and build my CV. Being a teaching assistant isn't contributing to these in a positive way that will get me publications and a meaningful job after graduate school. The way my teaching schedule is currently, Monday's are a total loss for me. I can't go on long term losing a full day of my own productivity each week.

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