Last time, I blogged about my 2011 New Year resolutions, in that spirit I decided to go back and review my first 18 months as a PhD student in Bioinformatics at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). Among the many components of being a PhD student (e.g. courses, research, teaching, and community involvement) I will attempt to “impartially” review my performance across each component during that time.
My goals for my first year were: 1) take as many required courses as possible, 2) pick an advisor, and 3) develop a strong application for external funding. Looking back I must admit that fortunately these goals turn out to be met in their entirety. First, in my courses, I learned a great deal and performed at a high level in all of my classes. Additionally, I was able to cross out 8 course requirements, which put me in great shape to finish all course requirements by Spring 2011. However, on the downside, I think I spent too much time on classes which is something that I need to balance out as I become fully involve in my research projects. Second, I did two research rotations, picked my advisor and started working on several research projects. Finally, the fellowship application I worked on with the assistance of many people got me an external fellowship, thus, securing funding for the next three years!!
In terms of teaching, I was not required to work as an Academic Instructor (aka Teaching Assistant), however, I took a pedagogy and professionalism course, where I learned many valuable lessons of how to approach teaching in an efficient manner. The two most significant techniques I leaned in this course and that will shape my courses design in the years to come were: 1) the backward design technique and 2) classroom assessment techniques. Regrettably, my community involvement during my first was non-existent which I considered to be unacceptable. Since then I have been more involved in the community by enrolling as a Emissary for Graduate Diversity for IU’s Graduate School Office, as well as participating in many events across campus.
Finally, my first year and a half at IU has been quite successful and enriching. Furthermore, I have enhanced my professional skill-set, while identifying areas where I need to improve as I keep maturing and moving forward as an Informatics PhD student.