Completing my PhD in materials

By: Rebecca (School of Materials)
Competition Year: 2016
Votes (9) | Comments (0)
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Step by step I come closer to the tower,
plan in hand but fate holds the power,
for every timetable and plan you make,
alterations will be made for research’s sake.
I sit at my desk and get my laptop out,
open my software and try to figure what my peaks are about.
Crash, re-open, crash, this isn’t unusual.
I must get it working, the results are crucial.

Time to give my eyes a break,
perhaps I’ll do some sample prep.
Gather my metal, polishing pads and tape
To the lab I head and the office I escape.
The noise of the cutter fills the room,
murmuring of pumps and engines boom.
The grinding pad spins at 300 rpm,
the sample must be flat with no bend.
My fingers support it, skimming the pad.
Without the protective tape, there would be blood which is bad.
I’ve experienced cuts and it was certainly not pleasant,
for experimental scientists PPE is like a birthday present.

The microscope is my next port of call,
it lets me look at particles that are really very small.
The samples are ready,
I must keep my hands steady
for a slight movement
may mean waiting for vacuum improvement.
The chambers pump down, the voltage is on.
The surface is what the electrons look down upon.
The darkness surrounds a green fluorescent light,
when the cleaner enters unexpectedly it gives me a fright!
For the room is quiet and concentration is high,
imaging surfaces is like counting stars in the nights sky.
Tiny particles are spread across my sample,
I must select a few to show as an example.

Analysing the particles is a mammoth task,
one that will set my PhD path.
I leave the dark room with some data,
the area I have looked at not even a millimetre.
I pack my belongings safely away,
my steps will be repeated the following day.

A PhD is difficult, tiring and frustrating
but the rewards are great and worth the waiting.
For when your analysis is completed,
questions are answered,
progress celebrated.
It's important to keep the flame of motivation ignited,
as solving the unknown keeps everyone excited.
Sponsors, supervisors, friends and family,
they are there to help and do it happily.
The physical sciences are here to stay,
research continues come what may.
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