Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Annual Review Extravaganza

Every grad student in my department is supposed to have an annual review with their advisers before Halloween of each year. The idea is that once a year we get our whole faculty committee in a single room for an hour to discuss our progress and future directions. This being my sixth year in grad school, I have decided that this year I am going to (for the first time) find a time when my whole committee is in town and make them come and sit down and talk to me. This is supposedly required every year, but last time I tried to comply, my committee chair said the effort was, "noble but fanciful." Every year I end up meeting with my committee members individually, or emailing with them, and getting only some of their signatures on the form I have to return to the department.

This year will be different.
My plan now is to communicate not with my major professor, but with his administrative assistant, who schedules his whole life. I already have a list of every time he is scheduled to be out of town, which is most of the time, and am working on getting such lists from my other three committee members. I plan on being a lot more persistent in trying to schedule a meeting this time than in the past, as this year I actually have product to show off, rather than simply a new plan for what I want to do in the future.
I've been working on a list of what to have ready by the meeting (which will be some time in September or October). Here is what I have so far.

Things to have ready:
1. Lauren's paper with completed data set.

2. Completed draft of defining behavior.

3. Primate variables mapped onto phylogeny.

4. Rough draft of comparative menopause paper.

5. Update on main rotifer experiment (draft of DDIG proposal?)

6. List of ongoing projects with one to two sentence summary of each.
.A. Rotifers
...1. Main Experiment
...2. Lauren's Thesis
...3. Sijie's Incest Avoidance project
...4. Rotifer Ethogram (Laura/Harmony)
...5. Polina's Egg Size Project
...6. Nicole's Biomechanics Project
...7. Rotifer/Chitrid
...8. Hamutahl's sickness project
.B. Comparative Primate studies
...1. Main analysis
...2. Comparative Menopause
...3. Sex biased dispersal (Darragh)
.C. Defining Behavior
.D. Thoughts on evolution of infant mortality (still nebulous)

Looking at this list, I see several items that I am confident can turn into publications, several others that could turn into publications if I ever get time for them, and others that are based on interesting ideas, but I am not entirely certain where I am going with them. My committee is inevitably going to tell me that I have too many projects and need to concentrate on just a few. I need to be prepared, before our meeting, to tell them which ones I will shelve or drop. Whenever that meeting is.

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