February Failures…

…by Phoebe / from the United Kingdom / PhD Tissue Repair 2013-2017

After a terribly bluesy January I am finally back to normal and working away like every other scientist: labouring everyday but yielding very little fruits!

After collecting my samples for sequencing I discovered I had achieved exemplary quality yet insufficient quantity. This means I have to perform an additional amplification step which not only pushes back my plans but means I have the added stress of adjusting the focus of my talk at the upcoming SRI conference in Orlando, Florida (more on that later!). Currently I am waiting for the kit to arrive so there is a big fat pause on that work, this is something that has shed tears from my eyes…

Similarly, for a different aspect of my project I wanted to try a functional assay developed by colleagues in the Centre for Regenerative Medicine with cells of my own, a really exciting experiment which would complement work I have so far. However as you would expect this did not work as beautifully as I had hoped and a month of preparation was down the drain… yet more tears shed!

This PhD is showing me I am not best suited to constant disappointment.

So February hasn’t been the most positive month in terms of the lab but in amongst these failures a compassionate colleague said ‘Try not to let this get you down. Why don’t you write down everything you have learnt by doing this experiment as opposed to the results obtained, and then write down everything you need to investigate further or change in order to make it better’. This was enlightening and once again reminded me of the importance of our negative results! To add to that, optimisations are all equally important to positive results when it comes to writing the thesis so… head is screwed back on, emotions are tucked away, acceptance that science never goes to plan reinforced and I am ready to continue.

On a more positive note I am off to Orlando in March to attend the Annual Conference for the Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI). For this I have a poster to prepare on my work on inflammatory cells in endometrial repair, and I also have talk to prepare on my work with progenitor cells in the endometrium. This will be the ‘biggest’ talk I have ever done, lasting 30mins in a conference of over 1000 attendees… safe to say I am extremely nervous! But I am making sure I am organised by preparing my work weeks in advance giving me plenty of time for refinement and practise… plus the hotel looks gorgeous and I have never been to America so that part makes me really excited indeed!

This month I also had to submit my 22month (2nd Year) Report in preparation for my second Thesis Committee Meeting. It was a good opportunity to collate all my results to date and review the progress that I have made since the 1st Year Report, sometimes you don’t realise how far you have come until you sit down and look through everything- definitely an important exercise of self-praise (not too much don’t worry)!

And outside the lab I have actually spent quite a lot of evenings writing and working but in amongst that I attended a Disney princess themed pub quiz. This promised a costume prize and so I dug out my 21st Belle dress, my sister was Pocahontas, her friend was sadness and my pal Stefan was Bruce the Shark!!!

disney quiz.jpg

We glamorously entered the ‘Three Sisters’ pub only to realise no-one else had dressed up and the organisers hadn’t realised they had advertised a prize. One of us would have won if there had been one so we were happy with that. We came 4th in the quiz and left scolding ourselves for the silly mistakes and hiding embarrassed faces at the extent of our costumes!!!

My sisters and I have also started a new venture whereby we are hosting themed club nights on a monthly basis with the idea that people attend in costume and basically have a party in a decorated venue with the chance to win a costume prize (like Halloween but all year round). Our name is ‘GLADRAGS’ and we hosted the first one on the 17thFebruary to celebrate Valentine’s weekend with the theme of love and lust at the ‘Moulin Rouge’.


It was a great success and really fun to organise and we are already planning for the next one. Have a look at the pics and see what you think 😀 Maybe you will attend the ‘Night at the Circus’ in March!



So until next time,



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