Comments: 1924 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

LetsGetOwaisted1391 karma

I have immense respect for people who pursue PhD and academic research.

I applied to medical school, which I likened to swimming in a heated pool. You know the distance you're swimming, there might even be people cheering you on the sidelines along the way. And when you're done you get out of the pool and go on your way.

With a PhD, you're swimming in uncharted waters from one island to another. Except its dark, cold, lonely and you don't know if the direction you're swimming in is the right one. And if you make it to an island you wanted to get to, there isn't really a huge celebration awaiting you either.

Either way, what I mean to say is congratulations and I have the utmost respect for you and people like you who continually improve and increase the totality of human knowledge.

stuckingradschool712 karma

Upvoted for truth. The fact that the end of your studies depends on stuff you can't control is maddening. Law school or Med school look so tantalizing simply because you know exactly when they will be over.

Maaaaadvillian1272 karma

Thank you for ever so slightly expanding the circle of knowledge

stuckingradschool760 karma

This figure is so true it's ridiculous.

glycosylated639 karma

What's the tl;dr of your thesis? Congrats!!!

stuckingradschool1036 karma

tl:dr- Extrasynaptic changes occur following the induction of synaptic plasticity which affect how a neuron will respond to multiple inputs, not just the potentiated one.

Also: thanks friend!

BigTimeOwen497 karma

ELI5, please.

stuckingradschool770 karma

Memory acquisition in the brain is thought to be linked to changes in the strength of synaptic connections between neurons. These changes are thought to be specific to the synapse. My research investigated changes that occur outside of the synapse, at the cell body. The role of these extrasynaptic changes is unknown, with some groups saying they support synaptic plasticity, and others saying they provide a different kind of learning.

Shit, re-reading this, you'd have to be a pretty smart 5 year old.

Memoriae888 karma

Eli5 and neuroscience don't tend to play very well together.

stuckingradschool453 karma

Man, that's the truth.

Salva_Veritate63 karma

What are the potential applications of your research?

stuckingradschool95 karma

Th ion channel I investigated is related to many disorders related to hyperexcitability. In my thesis I show regulation of it by the induction of LTP (thought to be the cellular mechanism of learning). Some of the second messengers that I investigated as potential regulators of the channel in response to the plasticity induction may be involved in dysregulation of the channel which is involved in pathology.

I suppose there is the possibility of nootropic exploitation of the channel, though that doesn't interest me too much.

KosstAmojan56 karma

Bam! Introduce some Zeta Inhibiting Peptide (ZIP) and there goes all that memory!

Source, my research:

stuckingradschool49 karma

PKMzeta is pretty interesting. As far as I know, its the only protein which when blocked erases expression and maintenance of the protein translation dependent phase of LTP.

[deleted]18 karma

What do you mean by extrasynaptic? I'm a psych undergrad, so I understand everything else you just said, but I've never heard that term.

stuckingradschool49 karma

Extrasynaptic just means changes outside of the synapse, such as the local dendritic branch or even the cell body.

sailormooncake169 karma

Congrats! I have a few:

  1. Where did you get your Ph.D. from?

  2. What do you want to do now? Industry or stay in academia? Or change fields?

  3. Was it worth it?

stuckingradschool115 karma

  1. Tulane University

  2. Still deciding.

  3. I have no idea how to answer this question. I'm hoping that after some time passes, my perspective will shift, and the answer to this question will be yes. As of right now, I still don't know.

knaych93 karma

Congrats of your defense. I've also been toiling away at a PhD for 6 year and I need to file myself by early September (mine is in Materials Science and Engineering). My only problem is that I came up with all my good ideas in the past year and now need to cram a load of work into these last few months.

Any advice for surviving the final push?

Also: Dissertation or it didn't happen! I'm sure if you post it here someone may actually read it (gasp)!

stuckingradschool92 karma

I would say start writing as soon as possible. The background and the discussion took me twice as long as I thought.

lets_discuss_butts87 karma

Good luck getting funding. You'll need it.

stuckingradschool99 karma

Yeah I know. I think in order to support the continuation general research, the fundamental structure of the current grant preparation model needs to change. The idea that every lab head needs funding from NIH or NSF will be sorely tested as funding sources dwindle.

solver11177 karma

Explain women.

stuckingradschool78 karma

Can't help you there bud.

WhoAmI_ImJeanValjean57 karma

I don't have an questions, just wanted to say congratulations, Doctor.

stuckingradschool6 karma

Thanks man!

selflessGene53 karma

If money were no concern (think access to $5-10 billion or so), what could be done to increase the pace of neuroscience research?

I think one of the factors holding back biological innovation is the extraordinarily long time it takes to go from hypothesis to completed research. In computing, hackers can test hypothesis and create REALLY FAST. So you end up having millions of people innovating in software, coming with lots of ideas, throwing away the bad ones, and improving on the good ones.

Could you imagine a scenario where your Ph.D project was completed in 6 months, not 6 years? What would be required?

stuckingradschool60 karma

This is a great question. Replication is a big part of testing a hypothesis. Anything that would help speed replication would drastically reduce time spent answering a single question.

Unfortunately, experimentation with acute slice preparations that contain both living brain cells and the synaptic architecture seen in the intact organism greatly slows down progress, as the amount of things that can wrong is greater than a a physics experiment, where the physical substance being manipulated isn't slowly dying.

I will think more about this.

emmyshangalang41 karma

What is your opinion on consciousness? Do you think it is a physical or non-physical phenomenon?

stuckingradschool103 karma

Way out of my league here, but my speculation is that consciousness is an emergent property of specific types of complex neural networks.

Vidyadhara40 karma

I have a headache just thinking back on grad school. Congrats.

How difficult was it getting into grad school with the grades you had?

Straight up: Advice to anyone applying for graduate school? (I see often this question in academic reddits.)

What are the chances you'll leave academia and never come back and be a happier person for it?

stuckingradschool126 karma

Thanks man. It was slightly difficult.

My advice to those who want to get in to grad school and have sub par grades, is to volunteer in the lab of a faculty member whose research interests you. Show up planning to do a bunch of free labor, and hopefully they'll give you a project to work on. When it's time to apply, the strong recommendation of a faculty member who wants you in his or her lab counts for more than GRE scores or GPA.

Ishindri34 karma

I'm a junior in college, aiming for a Ph.D. in neuroscience myself. What can you tell me now that you wish someone had told you back when you were where I am?

And, what are your specific areas of interest?

TheBredditor92 karma

Not to jack the OP's time and thread, but the more advice you get, the better, so I'll chime in here as well. PhD is hard. It's not hard as in the work is particularly difficult (although it's definitely not easy), it's hard as in extremely frustrating. You will work long hours. You will fail, repeatedly. You will be poor while in grad school. You will have little social life. You will regularly feel stupid.

The good thing is it's rewarding in the end. You will learn to be self-reliant. You will learn amazing time-management skills. Hard work will come naturally. You will meet incredibly intelligent people. And in the end, you will have really accomplished something.

My advice is join a program with an option to master out, and a program with rotations in your first year. You wouldn't believe how many people think they want a PhD. and realize quickly that it's not for them. Likewise with people who think they want to study neuroscience or cancer or whatever. Your interests will change and you definitely want to have multiple labs to choose from. Hope that is helpful and OP can agree/disagree with me. Good luck!

EDIT: I forgot one really important thing: YOU WILL NOT HAVE WEEKENDS. They don't exist. Forget about them.

stuckingradschool56 karma

OP agrees. Dropout rate was pretty high for my class.

domdiggity33 karma

Where do you go from here?

stuckingradschool124 karma

I'm joining a swat team or a fire department. So sick of science right now I can't begin to describe. In truth, I'll probably start looking for post-docs sometime this week (which I should have done ages ago).


SWAT is having open tryouts in Bridgeport CT, just wanted to throw that out there

stuckingradschool38 karma

Do you happen to now when?


What were your marks like throughout University?

stuckingradschool60 karma

Pretty horrible most of undergrad, significantly better the last two years, all A's in grad school.

H_E_Pennypacker59 karma

What do you mean by "pretty horrible"? Like only a 3.7?

stuckingradschool51 karma

Not sure exactly, but i believe my undergrad GPA was 2.8. Before my last two years it was probably 2.3

stuckingradschool24 karma

Guys, headed to lunch. Will be back in a few.

misanthropist123 karma

do you have a genius intellect?

stuckingradschool129 karma

Fuck no. I though I was smart before I entered this program, but exposure to people who actually are geniuses has given me a much more realistic self-evaluation.

illogicalexplanation23 karma

How did the defense go? Was it more of a formality than anything? I have been to a philosophical dissertation defense, which was underwhelming and ceremonial more than defense in meta-ethics is coming up in 2-3 years, I am terrified.

Congratulations though, your shoulders must have felt a hell of a lot lighter these past two days.

stuckingradschool20 karma

It definitely wasn't a formality.

staff-infection22 karma

Was reddit the reason why it took you 6 years?

stuckingradschool53 karma

HA! it certainly didn't help. I'm looking at you, r/bjj!

clipmann19 karma

Congratulation Dr. Stuck.

stuckingradschool29 karma

I wish I could change it to unstuck now!

me0wlita14 karma

What was your biggest discovery in the study of neuroscience? I thought it was amazing learning how all of the senses work.

[Edit] Let me rephrase that. What was the one thing you learned that was the most amazing discovery/knowledge you came across?

[[Edit 2]] Oh wow, I didn't know this comment would get a lot of attention, haha! School, you took away my moment of watching this grow!

stuckingradschool78 karma

I think the sexiest stuff right now in my field is channel rhodopsin transgenic mice, which allows the researcher to activate specific neurons in vivo simply by shining a light implanted into the skull of the animal.

EscapetheMachine13 karma

Why did it take 6 years; what was the opposition like to your dissertation?

stuckingradschool50 karma

It took 6 years because electrophysiology is hard.

The opposition was much less than I expected. My prospectus was quite difficult, this was way easier in comparison.

BrainyChipmunk34 karma

"It took 6 years because electrophysiology is hard" is the story of my life. In year 5. Empathy, man. Nothing but straight up empathy.

stuckingradschool10 karma

You'll get there brother.

SynthD12 karma

How did you decide to do the Msc and PhD? Would you recommend it to certain types of people?

stuckingradschool53 karma

Decided to do a Ph.D. without any real knowledge of what it would entail, honestly. Anyone who says they didn't think about quitting a thousand times is lying.

I would say that if you're considering it, be prepared to make very little money compared to your friends who went to law school, to have a feeling that you're not accomplishing anything significant (which lasts for years), and to bash your head against the wall when your method of data acquisition fails you repeatedly.

TheBredditor43 karma

Completely agree. I'll be defending soon, it's been so incredibly hard watching my friends have "real" jobs and lives while I toil away at the bench. Something I really never thought about when I was applying for grad school, but I ended up thinking about mastering out and going to Law School or something almost every day.

stuckingradschool43 karma

Brofist. Hang in there buddy.

Edibleface10 karma

How did you feel before/after? can't imagine the cocktail of emotions that would accompany this kind of thing.

stuckingradschool20 karma

Relieved. Still hasn't sunk all the way in.

foreveralittleangsty7 karma

I know you said you will be hunting for postdocs soon, but do you see yourself pursuing an academic career? Or are there non-academic alternatives that are tempting you as well?

stuckingradschool18 karma

the non-academic stuff is very tempting. Pos docs have the smalest ratio of monetary compensation to years spent in school for any profession.