I recently had a friend describe getting a PhD as “like spending 6 years herding cats.”

I’m not sure a better analogy has ever been made.  As you picture the mania and frustration that would accompany such a feline round-up I want you to add into it that at the end you have to stand up in front of a crowd and justify the feat.

As I presumably get closer to my nebulous endpoint I am getting a better appreciation for just how much I’ve learned over the years while chronically “failing” at science.  I know it sounds like a I’m making excuses – and it is impossible to understand in the moment – but if all my experiments worked the first time I wouldn’t know nearly as much as I do about the actual science that goes in to each protocol.

I was reminded of this fact over the weekend while I was talking to a fellow grad student about the black magic art that is Western blotting.  While we both shared that we still occasionally get blank films from the dreaded X-OMAT we agreed that at least now we have the ability to narrow the list of things that could’ve gone wrong down to 10 or so.

Again, some may claim that I’m simply justifying my short-comings while the productive grad students cheers to their successes in some champagne lounge of triumph somewhere, but I’m going to stick to my guns on this one.  At any rate, I was reassured this week that I made the right choice in choosing to go to graduate school when I got arm-wavingly excited about my journal club paper about antitumor immunity…that takes a special kind of person…perhaps the same kind of person who really likes cats.

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