So where’s your noodle?

Let me start off by saying that, I think I’m coming around from whatever it is that I was experiencing. Some serious “trippy” business going on (sans anything likely to cause that!). So today, has been an interesting day. It started off with my progress review panel (PRP) and ended with me being incredibly confused by the weather…amongst other things (it was clear blue skies with dazzling sunshine, and raining like crazy…not forgetting the rainbow too!).

So, a PRP, what’s that, right? At my institution, PhD/research students undergo an annual review board (internal subject expert, panel chair and director of studies) to ensure that they are on ‘track’. Mine was the first out of our cohort, and I was definitely nervous. Nothing unusual, since I usually freak out and that whole package is consistent with anything remotely resembling an examination/presentation. Doesn’t help that my internal expert was dressed like Colonel Sanders (Oh dear). The panel chair introduced the session and I went straight into my presentation, every now and then I turned to look at the ‘Colonel’ and would be disturbed by the incredibly confused expression on his face. Of course, this did not help with my nerves, but I pressed on knowing that my presentation was far from complicated. Now, this was not only my first PRP, but it was also his first too…and it was obvious. When it came to the Q&A part, the questions at times felt slightly irrelevant (he was trying to make them about his subject rather than my project), but that didn’t stop me from making it about me! Although I was able to relate most of the questions to what I’ve looked at…there was one question which completely fazed me. I stood there and didn’t show it…since autopilot was insistent on pressing on. But I went blank. He’d asked how COPD causes cardiovascular disease. The answer to this was fairly simple and something that I’d have been able to say, had I taken a moment to think. But no. Instead I started to talk about atherosclerosis and plaque build up, foam cells, arterial walls etc…I was hoping to confuse him with the cardiovascular system. It seemed to work. The expressions were priceless. The one question that I thought was completely ridiculous, was why am I saying that COPD affects mainly an ageing population? This was quite an odd question, since Colonel Sanders himself admitted that 90% of patients affected by COPD are geriatric…so I found this quite an amusing question, but nevertheless, I decided to entertain him and mentioned the effects of smoking too.

Colonel then asked the Chair how much longer he needed to ask questions (that was hilarious), he was told that it was up to him and he could ‘wrap it up’ if he liked, so he did. Then my DoS was asked to leave the room and I was asked about my experience. Now, there’s a lot that I could’ve said; but autopilot decided to keep things positive and bury the so-called ‘hatchet’. We ended up discussing in great detail about my extensive future plans (which impressed the Chair and Colonel Sanders also seemed to be impressed), without realising that my DoS was probably panicking about the potential discussion occurring (of course, none of it was really to do with him!). I then switched places, and managed to hear my DoS say “she’s got a lot of data”…so I decided to move further along the corridor and spent the short time talking to my colleague before being beckoned back. I was told that my PRP went very well, and I would be allowed to progress to the next stage without any amendments (best possible outcome). Woohoo. That’s right people. I’m a second year PhD student now!

As for the whole “trippy” experience…still trying to work out what happened? But I felt dazed ALL day, as though I wasn’t actually there…(not quite sure WHERE I was), and as if everything that was going on, wasn’t quite real. I felt as though I was ‘Alice in Wonderland’…but with someone taking apart my brain and reassembling it all wrong. But throwing around some multi-lingual ‘parting’ words, seemed to bring me back.

PS. ‘Noodle’ is referring to my brain 🙂


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