Day in the life blog series – What’s it’s really like to be a Ph.D. Student

Graduate students can be somewhat mysterious creatures, haunting labs in the wee hours of the night, or disappearing for months on end to venture to some faraway place, collecting data and samples of critters that they’ll struggle to pronounce after a few days of sleep-deprived night watches aboard a ship.

There are no graduate student heroines and heroes in blockbuster movies (at least none that I know of) and most “scientist” leads in films and shows are either responsible for unleashing some deadly zombie virus on the world, or sweaty and scribbling pseudo-equations under pressure to save the planet.

We’d like to show you what graduate students/scientists are actually like, on a personal, day-to-day basis. What we do, how we do it, and why we think it’s cool enough to think about it for 5+ years on end. And also to show how much passion and energy is a part of science, as much, if not more than, the shrewd logic we’re trained to worship.

This blog series will showcase the life of graduate students in the MIT-WHOI joint program in oceanography. In short, we’re budding scientists that study the oceans. Some of us study the organisms that live in it, others the currents and waves that keep the oceans in motion, some the chemical process that occur in the oceans, or the seafloor and its layers and composition, and another group engineers a lot of the tools and instruments that make it all possible.

Some days we feel like the next Einstein on the brink of some amazing revelation and other days we come into lab and find that our ocean critters had it with being kept in aquariums and all kicked the bucket, so much for our experiment with those. You might be surprised to find how much humor and luck factor into scientific progress.