Today is my first official day working in the lab that I will be doing my thesis in. I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally put rotations behind me and get started doing a long-term project that I am interested in!
This lab is one that I initially became interested in way back when I interviewed at Pitt (January 2013). I did my first rotation here and pretty much immediately decided that it was the lab I wanted to join. Everything looked set but then all of a sudden in the spring there was a lot of uncertainty about the availability of funding. (PSA: This is a huge problem in research that affects everyone!!!) Needless to say, that made me a real wreck for about 6 weeks in April-May until everything smoothed out just a couple of weeks ago. At the very end of last week I finally got all of the necessary paperwork signed and now I am all set to start! The PI is Walter Storkus.
Later today I will find out what my actual project is going to be- we’ve tossed a few ideas back and forth and last we talked I figured I’d said my piece and left it up to Dr. Storkus to decide on my project for me. There are two main projects going on in the lab that I am interested in and that are available at the moment- so I’ll see later which one will be my focus for the next 5 years!
A few of my friends joined their thesis labs in April and one of them said that her first day as not a rotation student felt totally different, even though, since she joined her 3rd rotation lab, she was going back to work in the same place she had been for the immediately previous 10 weeks. I didn’t understand what she felt at the time but now, thinking about finally going into my thesis lab in a couple of hours, I’m beginning to understand. There’s a sense of belonging, and of commitment, that a rotation lab just doesn’t bring. 10 weeks versus 5 years: that’s the difference.
Now that I have a “home”, I think (and hope) that grad school will start to feel more serious. I am longing to have a focus, but I drew very little motivation from the projects that I knew were going to end 2 months down the line. Starting today I have something long-term to focus on and I think that will help me feel more intellectually-stimulated, and that is something I am always looking for.
For now, I am off to class in the morning and then lab, finally, in the afternoon– I can’t wait!