Planning, Thinking, Scheming

This week I finally established a target date for finishing my Ph.D. For the past two years I’ve been rather uncertain about when a realistic end could be reached. After some conversations this week I have set December 2011 as my goal.

In a way this is terrifying, for there is a lot that needs to happen before then. I’m counting on many things going well. Part of my research still frustrates me. The bulk of my work so far falls in the area of applied science. There’s not much that’s groundbreaking in it. I’d love to wander over into theoretical science a bit in the spring of 2011, it would make my dissertation a bit more convincing.

Right now the big hurdles that I face are:

Fall 2010
– Passing my comprehensive exams.
– Writing up and synthesizing 2009 and 2010 experiments.
– Conducting pathogen isolations from roots and soil from my 2010 experiments.
– Setting up my soil remediation experiment.
– Planning a dynamite set of experiments for the spring.

Spring-Summer 2011
– Running those dynamite experiments.
– Creating my dissertation.

Fall 2011
– Polishing my dissertation.
– Passing my final exam.
– Dissertation defense/revision.

The scary thing is how many of these items could go wrong. In some cases they can go really wrong (like failing comps, the final exam, or the defense–which means game over), in other cases they can go wrong and cause delays.

So right now I’m a bit excited to have a goal in mind, yet feeling some apprehension that it’s too ambitious. It’s going to be a crazy year and three months.

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