I’m back!

Hello, blog. It’s been a while. So many things have happened. I am now a doctor!

Let me tell you about how this happened. For starters, I gave an exit talk.

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Then I gathered the signatures of all four committee members and I submitted my dissertation.

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Finally, I got a lollipop. I could hardly believe it. I did it. I fooled them all.

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[Not pictured: I got a “dissertation muffin top,” which is what I think we should call all those studies you started with your advisor during more optimistic times, that don’t fit neatly into the muffin cup of your thesis, but instead spill over into the rest of your life indefinitely. Currently responding to reviewers on a paper, for which I collected data in my FIRST YEAR of graduate school. Let that sink in.]

My first order of business as a doctor was, of course, to go to Burning Man.

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It was a dusty one.

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I came back, dusted myself off, and started a new job!

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Which brings me to the reason for my return to the blogosphere. It’s been a nice summer-long hiatus during which all of my writing efforts were poured into “real science.” I figured I’d start writing for the internet again sometime, and that time is now. I have new goals, a new environment, a new perspective.

I’m a Thinking Matters fellow at Stanford (for real! It’s a kind of demi-professor post, so no, Mom, I’m not a real professor), which means I’ve been placed on three teams (one each for the fall, winter, and spring quarters of the school year) to teach a special set of classes designed for freshmen. They show up, having survived whatever insane gauntlet of courses and extracurriculars got them here in the first place, and they are required to take at least one of these courses to help them transition, pick up collegiate study skills, and level up on their critical thinking and rhetorical prowess. Given that these students will have a range of preparation from their high school years, I am excited to be a part of this great equalizer.

More selfishly, the curriculum and team dynamic of my first course, The Science of Mythbusters, are nothing short of perfect for me. I get to indulge all of the vendettas I’ve been fermenting for the last six years, by dropping truth bombs about how we do science onto the next generation of world leaders. That’s right, someone gave this angry woman a platform. Oh sure, I spend 4 hours a day commuting, sometimes crossing the bog of eternal stench that is the south bay on a very slow bus. And sure, I’m still getting used to some things (like how here, if a projector doesn’t work, it’s expected that something can be done about it–I guess that’s how money works). But the important thing is: I don’t hate my job.

In fact I really really really like my job.

I like my job so much that my ideas are starting to come back. I’ve been mining old notebooks for writing topics, reveling in my continued university-affiliated PubMed access, and scribbling down anecdotes that tumble from the mouths of some of the most ridiculously enthusiastic and engaged academics I’ve yet met. I’m still pretty sure that my still being in a university means I can’t access press releases on embargoed studies (holler at me if you think different, EurekAlert!), but then, how many times have I heard from my science writing idols that it’s lame to only cover things because they’re new? Challenge accepted.

Look for a new post soon–I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t already have a special paper in mind. I’ve got three years in this here writing incubator. The work is fun, the people are nice, and the air here is rich with inspiration.

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