So I don’t go around telling this story very often, mainly because I hardly ever think about the context of it all. But I thought about it the other day, and now I can’t even remember how. But let’s not deviate from the point. So. How have I ended up here? A PhD student in cardiovascular pharmacology?
One answer. A strategic anomaly.
It stems from my MSc project. We were asked to pick up to 4 projects that we were interested in pursuing during our summer research project period. Now, I was perfectly aware that as a pharmacology student, I would be unlikely to get a molecular biology project of my choosing; even though that was what I had really wanted. So that was out of the running, now what I’m about to say next is going to sound incredibly rude and undermining. However, you should note that in order to understand what I’m about to say, you had to witness my cohort to be able to make head or tail from it. So although it’s important to bear in mind the supervisor for a project, in my mind, that was not the most important criteria for choosing a project. My colleagues/class mates/peers on the other hand, were of a different school of thought. And so as expected, almost all had chosen projects based on who was leading it, with little if not any thought regarding the project itself. I had not. There were very few pharmacology projects that I had any real interest in, so how would I go about choosing one? Now I had an inkling of what everyone else had picked, and rather than go for something I stood little chance in getting, I wanted to get my first choice. So I decided that I would pick the most complicated sounding project. Something almost unpronounceable for my colleagues. Bring forward “Ipratropium bromide mediated myocardial injury in in vitro models of ischaemia/reperfusion“, it turns out that I was the only student to have picked this project, and therefore unlike my colleagues who had one supervisor between 5/6 of them, I was the sole student of my supervisor. My gamble had paid off. So come project period (May/June), we all started our projects, and it seemed for the most part, that we were all pretty much doing the same thing. Boring. But I was determined to get as much experience under my belt as possible and so I pushed, and pushed some more.
It turns out that my determination to want to learn and try out as many techniques as possible put me under the “spotlight”. A PhD project based upon my MSc project was being proposed and I was asked to give serious consideration in applying for this project, since it was as “good as mine”. So I did. And you know the rest.
I’m studying a PhD and basing my career on a decision which at the time was simply a “strategic anomaly”. And despite everything, I’m glad it worked out this way. I suppose it’s divine intervention at it’s best.