Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dissertation Update

My dissertation is done! Well, almost. The first draft is completed at least. I officially scheduled my defense the other day and sent off my dissertation to my committee! March 26 is defense day. 

Hopefully after that I will be this close to being done with my doctorate. Just have (again, hopefully) a few minor edits and then go through the fun formatting process with the graduate dean office. The number of hoops you have to jump through is a little ridiculous. For instance, the spacing, margins, and indentions have to be just so, or no go for you. The margins on the title page of each chapter has to be different than the margins on the other pages. Basically it is a Microsoft Word nightmare. Then there is all the copies I have to get on acid-free paper, pay to have each copy binded, etc. Basically it's more of a hassle than writing the entire dissertation was, but I digress.

So here's how a defense works, if you were wondering (if not, scroll down):
-I present my research for about 10-15 minutes. It's geared towards those on my committee (four faculty members from my department + 1 outside faculty member), hence why it is so brief. 
-Those in the audience, but not on the committee, get a chance to ask questions. The audience members will probably consist of my graduate school friends, so as my chair told me, I should give everyone the stink eye so they don't ask me questions. Friends don't ask friends questions at their defense.
-Then all the audience members get kicked out and the faculty get to ask me questions privately. This can go any number of directions where they ask me about a very specific finding and how I interpret it, or ask me something broad like "What did you learn from this process." Hopefully my committee members will be nice to me, but this is the part I'm most nervous about.
-Then I get kicked out and the committee discusses with the chair if I pass or not. Most commonly, people get the "Pass with Minor Corrections," so that's what I'm hoping for. Those minor corrections could be adding an appendix with some supplemental analyses or changing the wording of some sentences. It all depends.
-After they're done discussing, I get invited back in and told the news, along with what edits need to be made.
-Then I leave and grab some lunch with friends. Or ice cream. Or wine. Depending on how it goes :P

And that's it! Not too crazy really. The biggest unknown is what questions they will ask me, but I think my chair has prepared me for what those could be. The whole document is 75 pages along, including all the 'content-less' pages like the title page, table of contents, etc. Fairly short, but I'll take it!

And because I love PhD comics...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Trip to Hogwarts

Happy March! We'll ignore the fact that it's almost mid-March, k?

I just got back a few days ago from a fun trip to Orlando. The intended purpose of the trip was to attend a Criminal Justice conference, but my family & I used it as an excuse to have a mini-reunion and visit Harry Potter at Universal Studios! Matt had to stay at home and work, so it was just my aunt, my parents, and myself. We had a blast though and I really enjoyed my 1 day of play. Don't worry, the other days I did attend the conference, and even presented some of my own research. That was my last conference presentation as a graduate student, so that was surreal. Anyway, on to the pictures (I apologize for the cell phone quality)!

We started off at Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure,
where we rode the Forbidden Journey.
This was the front of the Hogsmeade train station;
the train (Hogwarts Express) took you to Diagon Alley located in Universal Studios. 
The Hogwarts Express!
Now we are in Diagon Alley. I'm standing in front of Gringotts Bank,
with an awesome fire-breathing dragon on top of it. The ride located in
Gringotts (Escape from Gringotts) was absolutely phenomenal! 
My aunt, Paula, standing with the driver of the Knight Bus!
In front of 12 Grimmauld Place
The level of detail in Diagon Alley was pretty astounding.

Elsewhere in Universal, soaking in the Floridian sun!
The family at dinner that night. You can't tell, but we are absolutely exhausted
And proof that I was at the conference. Yes, this is
where our conference was located. I lead a rough life.
And just because. This was located at the resort we stayed at.
I had a great time and I loved getting to spend some time with my family! Mixing the conference + family time was a little strange at times, but we made it work. :) Next conference... Washington, D.C.!