At a medium pace

This week marked my very first week of grad school.  Huzzah, I guess.  I should probably feel excited or stressed, maybe exhausted or perilously sober, but who has the time to feel anything?  Right now I’m just busy.  Very. Very. Busy.  I knew that this was a challenging program going into it, but I can’t say I was entirely prepared for the break neck pace of it all.  Classes, studying, lab work, more studying, journal club, and a major test after the first two weeks, these are the ingredients of a psychotic break.  And the sick thing is, I think I like it this way.  Maybe it’s just that I don’t respect something unless it’s trying to kill me.  Maybe getting a Ph.D. should be hard, bizarrely so.  Either way, even if this pace is soul crushing, at least it’s not boring.

I won’t dwell too much on classes, or my burgeoning and crippling green tea addiction, because it’s only been a week, so there really isn’t that much to say.  Instead, here’s a quick walk through of this matriculation haze.  A glimpse into how I got to know the program, my classmates, and what we all looked like before our workload prematurely aged us.  This includes pictures from the PMCB retreat at The Inn at the Mountain, and who doesn’t want to see their PIs on the dance floor?

Pre-Orientation: Some of the more outgoing members of our class had the brilliant idea of meeting up for happy hour the day before orientation.  As awkward as I am in any social situation, especially ones with a bunch of strangers, it was worth it to meet everyone and bask in our shared anxiety.  It was a big relief to find I wasn’t the only one who was nervous, and an even bigger relief to find that all my classmates were interesting and cool people.  Here’s some of us in the beer garden of Fulton Pub:











Orientation:  Nothing to show here, and not much to say.  We were given several presentations throughout the course of the day that alternately calmed our fears, and then scared the crap out of us.  Kudos to Jacky for giving an interesting and entertaining presentation on the use and workings of the Library, something I didn’t think was possible.

PMCB Retreat:  Incomparable to the usual work outing.  Thanks to Crystal at the PMCB, this year’s retreat will forevermore be spoken of in the same breath as the Catalina Wine Mixer (and yes, I am the kind of person to reference Will Ferrel movies, a lot).  This year’s retreat was held at the Inn at the Mountain, and featured a putting competition (that turned into a cheating competition), volleyball (I made the winning shot, woo), an outdoor poster session with margaritas, two great keynotes, a band, and a lot of shameless drinking.  Here are just a few of the images I took, with the noted omission of the very late night after party.  For the sake of everyone’s careers and dignity I won’t show those pictures, but always remember, I still have them.

The venue.















The last place team in the putting competition.  Probably due to the fact that they were having the most fun.









Great dive shots like this couldn’t save them from my monster serve.  That, and we kept forgetting to keep score.









Posters and margaritas.









A few of the dancing pics, provided without comment.

















And here’s our big group shot.  Interesting trivia, this is the only picture I’m in, but good luck finding me.

That’s all the images for now, I’ll provide a link later if people want to see more.

First Week of Classes:  The blood mist descends and all I remember is something about nucleic acids, and studying the wrong paper for journal club.  That’s about it.  I’m sure the rest will come back to me in time for next week’s test.

So that’s been my introduction to the PMCB Ph.D. program at OHSU.  It’s been a right gas meeting everyone.  Now back to being horrendously, depressingly, soul crushingly busy. Which as it turns out, is the way I like it.


5 responses to “At a medium pace

  1. The first year is without a doubt the hardest, not only because of the amount of material we expect you to know, but because everything is new. But I like your energy! You will be amazed at how fast you will be able to read papers, and how comfortable you will be carrying out experiments and discussing data a few years from now!

  2. Welcome, Spencer!

    I would check with your program about the title “Ph.D. candidate.”

    You may not know this, but typically, students in graduate programs at OHSU advance to doctoral candidacy only after successfully passing their qualifying exams.

  3. Thanks, Spencer for documenting the dancing. I worked hard to get all those scientists out there!

  4. So glad to hear the PMCB retreat was a resounding success in a gorgeous setting, and so well planned — Crystal is indeed a ROCK STAR!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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