Friday, January 21, 2011

from the sleep saga

Funny thing about waking up 7 times a night: the dreams don't necessarily end just because I wake up.  There's a confused agony in trying to realize that the dream is separate from reality while simultaneously trying to void my mind of thoughts so that I can fall back again.  It doesn't help that the dreams themselves are stressful and depressing.

I feel like Ray Fiske from Damages, who had recurring dreams of his teeth falling out in a bloody mess because he was holding back a secret... except that I have no secret.  There is no Prednisone involved here, just my body's not remembering how to get through a night's sleep without the interruptions of pain or incontinence.  It's finding other outlets...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

increasing women in neuroscience

The Department Chair Training to Increase Women in Neuroscience (IWiN) is scheduled to meetin in Tucson, at the University of Arizona this April.  The workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation's ADVANCE program, is a three-year program aiming to increase the number of women on neurosciences faculty.  The participants of these workshops expect to leave them with tools to implement recruitment and advancement plans for women within their universities, and to disseminate the information they have gained in "echo" workshops at their institutions.

The IWiN workshops will be hosted in 2011 and 2012 at two of the graduate schools at which I may be a [woman] student at the time... depending on how interviews go at the end of this month.  Three of my four choice graduate schools are already participants of the ADVANCE program, which is not too shabby except that the missing institution has a ratio of approximately 1:3 women to men and does not facilitate an equity program in research.

I mention the IWiN workshops in response to a recent article in the New York Times discussing a nice array of statistics about the paucity of tenured female faculty, and women in the upper administrative echelons of science in general.  This was summarizing a study based out of UC Berkley.  The statistic that I thought was deserving of further attention in the New York Times report was this one:
"Tenured male scientists are considerably more likely to be married with children than tenured female scientists — 73 percent for men versus 53 percent for women. The report noted that among tenured science professors, women are nearly three times more likely to be single without children than men — 25 percent to 9 percent."
 The Berkeley article itself furthers this discussion beautifully, and as a woman weighing the possibilities of children and eventual faculty tenure (albeit, we're talking about ten years down the line), I highly recommend a read and consideration of the original research article:
Mary Ann Mason, Marc Goulden, Karie Frasch (2010). Keeping Women in the Science Pipeline Focus on Workplace Flexibility

Saturday, January 8, 2011

of Crohn's and graduate school interviews

Most folks think of hotels and cabs and hosted, socializing dinners as The Way to Travel.  A Crohn, more like, would be comfortable camping in the remote woods where if Throughput or any other less pleasant behavior rears its ugly head, it is easier for one to withdraw from The Scene to relieve one's misery. 

During a particular two-week stint at the end of the month, I will be embarking on the former journey -- an all expenses paid (or reimbursed) jaunt between four interview sessions through three states and four graduate programs.  That is right, your humble narrator has finally achieved the nigh unachievable: graduate school interviews.

Do any of my current readers remember how I began this blog in the first place in order to catalogue the adventures of a Crohn in pursuit of a sciences PhD?... well, it appears as though that promised content may not be lost to the wind after all.

January 27th-30th, I will be in Irvine, California interviewing with the program at the Medical School.  January 30th- February 3rd, I will be in Tucson, Arizona where my interviews have been specially scheduled by yours truly so that they do not directly overlap with the next series.  February 3rd-6th, it's back to Irvine to interview with a different department, and one of the most prestigious Neuroscience programs in the nation.

Notice the distinct less-than-one-day gap between interview periods.  Imagine how carting one's myriad pharmaceuticals around to interviews, on tours and at social dinners because one must have any and all back-up plans available in lieu of interrupting such a trip with an emergency room excursion, would look (not that I don't need to know where the hospital facilities are in these cities anyway, but there has got to be a better time).

Lest it be denied, I can assure that just because only three of these twelve days will be comprised of formal interviewing sessions with potential mentors, graduate program candidates will be under scrutiny the entire time.  Putting on one's best face and being on best behavior is essential.  Missing an interview because the stress of the previous day's delayed flight transition, which made you late for the courtesy ground transportation has rendered you unable to move the following morning, is not an option.  Looking trashed for an interview because you are high on oxycodone which is the only reason you made it to the interview at all is also not an option.

I am extremely nervous for these interviews, not because of the intimidation of the formal mentor interviews, but because the Crohn's has never traveled under such stressful circumstances and I am uncertain of how it will behave or how I will control it.  Not to mention the containment of the nasal exoskeleton and the as-yet-unabated ear colony.

Army Strong, folks.  This adventure calls for a little bit of Army Strong. 

The fourth interview session begins on February 10th, so I have a four-day sojourn to sleep in my own bed, cleanse in my own shower, and eat things like Boost and rice and fiber crackers.

Wish me luck, Dear Readers.