The more you know, the less you actually do…

…by Katherine / from Canada / PhD Biomedical Sciences 2015-2018


George Square is now dressed in its autumnal coat. The air has gotten much colder. In fact, I’ve been wearing a big scarf and hat all week! And, I actually heard my first Christmas song playing today! Again, I’m writing this post from the Edinburgh airport, I’m a regular you see. I am escaping the chilly weather here to go frolic in the freezing weather of North America.


You know the old adage: “the more you know, the more you realise the less you know”? I have definitely hit that stage in my writing. The more I read, the more I have to read because I no longer understand what I am reading. I have entered the world of protein signalling cascades. Phosphorylation activating proteins or inhibiting them, sumoylation, palmytolation, ubiquitination! So many post-translational modifications that can completely alter the function of a protein. I’ve been studying neuroscience for years, yet I still find it mind-boggling how many vastly different roles certain molecules can have. Or how certain pathways can mediate so many various cellular processes. I have realised how little I know. I have spent the past few days reading reviews upon reviews to get a better grasp at how everything comes together and works especially at the molecular level.
I must say in writing my thesis, I have also discovered how lucky I am that I have so many fellow PhD students at the University working on the same models as I am. They have all provided me with priceless knowledge and references that I might not have found on my own. They have also proven to be excellent sounding boards because although they may not be familiar with my approach to studying the models, we have had very enlightening discussions which have been incredibly helpful for writing my actual discussion.
Writing is more demanding than I had originally appreciated. I’ve still been doing some odd experiments in the lab, so I think that it has been hard to get into the writing mindset. However I am officially out of the lab so time to buckle down and get this finished before Christmas.
Writing progress report: Methods 95% finished first draft; Results chapter 1: 85% finished corrections; Results chapter 2 85% finished first draft

To do: Introduction, Results chapter 3, Final discussion


As I mentioned, I am at the airport getting ready to leave Edinburgh once again. Once again this year, I am attending the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference. This year it is being held in Washington DC. This is the biggest neuroscience conference in the world with over 30000 researchers coming together to share their science, debate current neurological topics and come together to collaborate to deepen our understanding of the brain. As I am right near the end of my degree, this is the perfect time to scout out potential postdoc supervisors and network my little heart out.

I’m also taking advantage of being on that side of the Atlantic to go home and write. I am hoping the change of scenery and lack of lab distractions will be very favourable for my writing.
Time to board. I’m off again! À bientôt Edimbourg!

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