Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Time flies and research inches along but graduation only creeps closer.

I freely admit it...I have totally neglected the blog over the past academic year.  My excuse would be that "things have been crazy, unsettled, and really hectic around here," but the longer I am in graduate school the more I realize that anyone in academia probably claims the same excuse.

In the same format as several of my most recent posts, here is a partial summary of highlights from the past two semesters in no particular order:

  • This month I become my adviser's most senior graduate student.  The labmate ahead of me defends her dissertation at the end of June and will be headed off to new science adventures. That puts my adviser back to three graduate students for this coming year.
  • I applied for and was granted a Graduate Research Grant from the Geological Society of America to work on a comparative study of detrital garnet ages versus detrital zircon and monazite ages from modern sediments in the southern Appalachian mountains.  This study will be either the second or third chapter of my dissertation!  In addition, I was recognized as one of 10 (out of 774 total applicants) awarded an Outstanding Mention for exceptional merit in conception and presentation of my grant application.  There's a chance that I may be attending the GSA fall meeting in Vancouver.
  • I completed two more classes.  I finally got to take a tectonics seminar and an isotope geochemistry course.  It's about time for an official isotopes course since I call myself an isotope geochemist..don't you think?!  Only two more courses to go during the remainder of my PhD.
  • I am currently writing my first, first-author paper, which will also be the first completed chapter of my dissertation.  I presented part of the research that the paper is based on at the AGU fall meeting in San Francisco last December.
  • During April and May I worked on a collaborative research project with Drs. Lenka and David Baratoux.  They came to Boston University as visiting scientists to date garnet from West African rocks as a part of the WAXI program (West African Exploration Initiative).  It is pretty exciting to be working on rocks that are being studied for the very first time!  I have been involved as an adviser for experiment planning, as a lab assistant as they learned the techniques for garnet geochronology here at BU, and as the lab tech for completing the clean-up work now that they have returned home.
The coming months should include work on preliminary data for a new grant application, completion of my first-author paper on garnet from the Jack Hills, and lots and lots of sample preparation for upcoming projects.  I'm also hoping to write a step-by-step methodology as I work in the lab this summer.  The plan is to include portions of that guide as blog posts illustrating what a day in the life of an isotope geochemist looks like.

In other news, I have been working on a brand new personal, academic website.  You can now find my personal page at www.kathryneccles.com.  Right now it is fairly basic and includes my professional background and current work, but soon I hope to add lab pictures, lesson plans, and more. I'm always open to suggestions for website improvements as I move towards graduation and job hunting in the next few years!

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