A typical day in the life of a statistician
I hope everyone checked out Rachel’s* last post. It really refueled my own motivation tank, and, when combined with the cool Snapchat time-filter photos I love on Insta, I came up with this lovely ‘Day in the Life’ post. Three years into my statistics PhD and I’m finally starting to get a feel for what a ‘typical’ day means for me. My life is currently a balancing act between research, class, teaching, and Real Life™. Sound familiar? Not every day is the same; not every week is the same. I love how my schedule is very flexible in regard to what and where I get to work. Last Friday I photo-documented my day, so I could bring everyone along with me. Check it out
Wake up time: I tell myself every night that I’m going to wake up at 7 am, so I can be super productive in the morning. Ideally, 7-9 am would consist of working out, nomming breakfast, then getting super cute for the day. I did not wake up at 7 am today. Today was a second alarm, one-snooze kinda morning. This is pretty typical, and if I’m honest, it’s a little earlier than normal.
Morning yoga: My partner Benjamin and I are currently emerging from our winter hibernation into some spring activity. I always feel better when I get some exercise in a few days a week, but it’s really difficult to remember that when I’m warm under the covers. STS (Sweet Tea Science) favorite and fellow blogger Beth of Finding Delight, had recommended Adrienne’s 30 Days of Yoga series on Youtube. It’s great for beginners (or out-of-practicers, like me), and the videos range from 15 to 30 minutes. Adrienne is my girl. I love her goofiness, her wild Tiger leggings, and how she totally gets how I feel about ab work.
Twitter science: Often, I try to spend a few hours in the morning working on my research. I’ll either stay home, head to a nearby coffee shop to check the code I had running, or write up some new model I’m developing. The rest of this morning, however, was a great combination of showering/getting ready to head to campus and the #SciComm event of the semester! Auriel Fournier (@RallidaeRule) live-tweeted, live-streamed her thesis defense. How cool is that? So many STEM tweeps were checking this out and tweeting about it that its hashtag, #MORailsDefense was even trending for a while! I very much recommend checking it out and STEM Twitter in general.
Teaching day selfie: Gotta look good for teaching day! Especially on the first 70˚ day… in February.
PokéWalk to campus: My walk to campus typically weaves through a few PokeGyms. Gotta walk those eggs and champion those gyms! It’s hard to be a State College Gen 1 (US-region) Pokémon Master, but someone (ME) has to do it. Gonna be the very best.
Stat 100 office hour: I’m very excited to have my first real statistics course to teach. Typically, graduate students in my department have grading assistantships or teaching assistantships, where they teach the lab sections for classes. I was assigned to TA for Stat 100, but since the professor does a lot of statistics education research, he prefers to work with the students in the lab – that means that lectures are all me! I lecture on Mondays and Fridays, grade part of the online homework, and hold office hours, also on Monday/Friday. Lecturing to 100+ students has been intimidating, but I’m enjoying the new challenge and the familiar faces of my regulars at office hours.
Lunchtime feeding: The Stat Department’s graduate student lounge is usually pretty hopping around lunch time. We commiserate, offer support, scrounge for ice cream, and shovel peanut butter. That last one might be mostly me. Or the last two.
Stat 100 grading: I have a marathon grading session later, but I figured I can take advantage of a spare hour or so to get a head start. Generally, I work on research in the mornings, and in the afternoon I split between Stat 100 responsibilities and homework for my own course.
Stealing a few moments: I try and break up my afternoons with the occasional walk
around campus. Today is the nicest day of the year, thus far, so I left early for my class so that I could enjoy the sunlight. Finding the little opportunities for enjoyment during the day is essential to keep sane. One of my favorite go-to spots to walk is the nearby Arboretum. Lovely plants… and lovely Pokémon.
Class time: After two years of overwhelming coursework and qualifying exam studying, I finally have a delightfully light course load this semester. I’m hoping to get a lot done on my current research project this semester; ideally, enough to get a paper out by May. So I’ve only signed up for one (required) class and a bunch of research hours. This advanced statistical inference course is a whole lot of super theoretical expansions of some fairly basic concepts. I am not a fan of super theoretical expansions. I have no idea what’s going on, on this black board.
Stat 100 teaching: Class time! The kiddos have a midterm on Monday, so we went over the practice midterm the entire time. I accidentally misled them twice when going over practice problems, but owned up to my mistakes. I hope they don’t judge me.
5:00 somewhere: Benjamin had beers waiting for me when I got home. We drank, snuggled, Netflixed, and ignored grading until the next morning.
I really enjoyed documenting and sharing my day. I’d love to peek in on everyone else’s lives in the lab, field, office, coffee shop workspace, etc. Share your photos on social media with the hashtag #LifeInSTEM! Then, rest easy knowing Rachel and I are totally peeping your business!
*Rachel Wigginton, who co-owns the Sweet Tea Science blog along with Meridith.
Meridith Bartley (@AlwaysScientist) is a PhD candidate at Penn State University. This story was published on March 4, 2017, on Meridith’s blog, Sweet Tea, Science (available here) and has been republished here with permission.