It’s good to be a graduate student, but life is busy. I struggle to balance research, teaching, professional development, volunteer commitments, and friends & family, just like everyone else I know. The graduate school grind can be challenging. It can feel like I’m pulled in multiple directions without enough time for any of my individual responsibilities. I know I’m not alone in this.
I’m also trying to really establish goals for my graduate career. What kind of scholar do I want to be? What exactly should my dissertation look like? What are the important questions that my research can answer? How can my work contribute to positive social change, particularly focusing on the natural environment and wildlife? I haven’t yet finalized a direction for my dissertation, and the possibilities seem endless and overwhelming while the decision seems enormous.
It’s also particularly interesting, and (frankly) frightening, to be working in science right now when science is increasingly under attack. For example, just a couple of weeks ago, the administration barred EPA scientists from presenting climate change research at a conference: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/10/23/let-us-do-our-job-anger-erupts-over-epas-muzzling-of-scientists/?utm_term=.f7fe659f552d. This is just one example of the many ways that the current administration is demonstrating an utter disregard for and misunderstanding of scientists and scientific inquiry. At the same time, I see increased polarization about science in mainstream discourse, which I find even more concerning. This doesn’t make conversation easier and in the long run I fear it will make it even more difficult for us to successfully face the challenges our world is facing.
So we push on. When I’m tired, I remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to spend my days reading and learning. I don’t take this opportunity lightly and am grateful for the many researchers doing rigorous and important work.