koji berry

koji berry

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Things I like from my PhD

After the previous post, I feel that I have to wrote down about the things I like from my PhD - as a balance, and also to stay grateful.

1. I had a good adviser. His scarce advises were sharp and useful, and moreover, he was a kind person.

2. I wrote 5 publications and 1 patent, and I was the main author for the 3 publications. All the publications were published in Q1 journals. I have left some impact to the academic world. I have tangible results. Yes, I can write.

3. I had chance to go abroad and works with great people from all over the world. I have worked in Finland and Russia, and presents in AIChE in US. I know that I am good at communicating with people with various background. The times I spent abroad were amazing and I learned a lot from them.

4. I gave lecture in reaction engineering and supervised a student. Another good experience. I love teaching.

5. I took the catalysis course and passed with an 8.1. As I don't have catalysis background, this gives a good feeling that I can learn quickly. I did learn very hard with my colleagues before the exam! (and we all passed with great marks). And this shows that I am not a quitter - a colleague gave up just 2 days before the exam, despite having studied together with us.

6. I managed to make some good friends. Not many, but good ones that stay being my friend until this moment.

7. And off course: I finished well. I survived with only negligible scars. I made a beautiful book and I answered the questions well.

8. I learn many skills, thanks to my great colleague: which End-Note version I should use, making nice graphs with Origin, playing with the data from the continuous experiment to ensure that the average really represents the experiments ... and many more.

9. The catalysts that we developed may be used in large scale for the sake of mankind. Isn't it great?

Phew! That is a relieve to see that not everything I did was wrong. It gives a good feeling and great self-esteem boost, now I can move further!

Interesting journal!

There is a great new journal from Elsevier: MethodsX. See here. Why didn't it appear earlier? I think an important contribution that I made during my PhD is the tweaking of the methods to properly attain the mass balance during the catalytic hydrotreatment.

Things I regret from my PhD

PhD is bitter sweet. The bitter things linger a bit too long, and at this moment I want to put them down here, and erase them from my mind. I will start...

1. Commuting. Commuting is annoying when you have a job and terrible when you do the PhD. PhD is the time to develop yourself as people, not only as a researcher. Due to my commuting I didn't have enough time to develop my hobby, my personality, and make friends. And being a person who function poorly without enough sleep, I wasted many hours in my lab. Sometimes I need to ask my friend if I could stay at her house when I needed to do a C-NMR. Commuting was a consciously-made choice, though, as Lrrr works somewhere else, and compromise was required.

2. My PhD topic is somewhere between chemistry and chemical engineering. I did it at a chemical engineering department, but none of the main professors gained their master's and PhDs in chemical engineering (they were part-time professors with chem-eng backgrounds, but they don't supervise PhDs). They were PhDs in organic chemistry or physics. They don't have enough passion for the process-related topics, and my chemistry baggage is not heavy enough.

3. I did not take enough courses. Courses are not given by the universities, but by the national "research schools", and they were not compulsory. My excuse was that I was too busy. 

4.  Lack of career orientation support. The fraternity is good at arranging this, but it is more for the master's student. I think the career orientation should be given by the university, and I think they should be a bit more proactive. I get the career orientation from the conference, and they were not very helpful.

5. Lack of supervision. There are not enough faculty to supervise us, and I did not understand why my advisor did not have a assistant professor to take care of the daily supervision. Although he is a very good teacher, my advisor did not have enough energy or time to give a proper supervision and some career overview. We were strayed students. 

6. I did not take enough vacations. I had 41 vacations days, I only used about half of them because Lrrr has a minuscule 26 vacation days. To go somewhere on my own would have been good.

All right! Now there are out of my mind. Time to move ahead. Looking at those things above, I think that postdoc is really not for me at this moment, as there is no "we" in academia, just me: my projects, my grants, my publications. And I don't want to do a postdoc simply to wait for other better job to come. Everything will be fine at the end. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Color quiz

I get several calls from job agencies. Now thinking of returning to the 9-to-5 job gives me a strange gut feeling. Would be an entrepreneur suits me? Is postdoc a better option? So I looked at  a job search site to find a quick career match test. One of the test options is the color quiz from  this site. I took it and put the result below. I have to say that it is surprisingly accurate.

Your Existing Situation

"Craves change and new things, always looking for new adventures and activities. Becomes restless and frustrated when she has to wait to long for things to develop. her impatience leads to irritability and a desire to move on to the next project."

My comment: yes.

Your Stress Sources

Feeling empty and isolated from others and trying to bridge the gap between herself and others. Wants to live life to the fullest and experience as much as possible. she cannot stand any restrictions or obstacles put in her way and only longs to be free.

My comment: freedom to do things my way is always very important to me.

Your Restrained Characteristics

"Finds satisfaction in sexual activity, but is emotionally detached which prevents her from becoming too involved."
Giving more than she is getting back and feels misunderstood and unappreciated. Feels she is being forced into compromising and even her close relationships leave her feeling emotional distant.
His arrogance causes her to take offense quickly. Only those closest to her know deep down she is sensitive and sentimental.
"He is able to find satisfaction through sexual activity, but can be restless and emotionally distant so she never really gets too involved with others."
Current events leave her feeling forced into compromise in order to avoid being cut off from affection or future cooperation.

My comment: Whaaat??? This is certainly not what I felt with Lrrr. This sounds more like what I felt when I was in the previous relation. But it was like a decade ago! However, I also feel that I am emotionally distant, and I am only open to a few people.

Your Desired Objective

"Highly optimistic and outgoing personality. Loves to learn new and exciting things, and craves new interests. Looking for a well-rounded life full of success and new experiences. Does not allow herself to be overcome with negative thoughts or self-doubt. Takes life head on, with enthusiasm. "

My comment: yes, yes, yes! Well, I have many negative thoughts, but I fight them.

Your Actual Problem

"Fights resistance or limitations, and insists she is free to develop in her own way. Rewarded by accomplishing things on her own, with little to no help from others."

My comment: Is this a problem?

Your Actual Problem #2

Is afraid she will be held back from obtaining the things she wants leading her to act out with a hectic intensity.

My comment: yes, I am afraid to be stuck.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014



I fell rather empty and clueless. So I decided to write to keep my mind flowing.

Still no job. I haven't had any worthy interview since last year. However, I keep on trying. There are not many jobs around that suits me. I also feel that I am thinking too much in making a CV and a letter. Speaking of which, at this moment I am not very satisfied with my CV. It is always like this. So I am satisfied, then become dissatisfied, then perform an overhaul, fix the CV, satisfied, become dissatisfied ... I guess that's just how people grow.


I have two CV formats, one for industrial job, and another for postdoc job. I don't think I am going to apply for postdoc job, but I like my postdoc CV so much. It is compact and looks very smart. An overhaul will be required to give my industrial CV the similar feeling as my postdoc CV.

Another important milestone: I officially own a company now. Yay! I decided to make it official when Lrrr asked me if I would like to help his company setting up a experiment design to check if their new idea can be realized. As a company owner you can have a tax deduction. Maybe I should be happy and enthusiastic with this idea, but I cannot help thinking that finding a paid job is my ultimate goal. Maybe I needed the external approval. Geesh. Shame on me! Counting on external approval to prove my self-worth! Maybe this is my problem that I need to solve at this moment.

I also have found that expressing my unhappy feeling works. I have quit mentioned it to Lrrr as he has seen enough and I don't think he can take any more of my negative emotions. But expressing can also be done by writing, or in my case, drawing.


Another thing that I still need to find out is my story. I think I am lacking a personal story - who I am, what really interests me, what can I do. At this moment I am just chasing approvals, as I am lacking the self-esteem. But I am working on that.