Making the best of your graduate experience……..

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This past January, I began a new journey, a doctoral program. Now, I’m no stranger to graduate school, I completed my MS in 2007, but this time it was different, I was going into a not so familiar territory, the Geosciences! Although I had an idea of what I wanted study, I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. It wasn’t until I met the professor, who would quickly become my advisor, did I know what I really wanted to study. That is when I joined “Team Geochemistry”.

Since joining this research group, I have had opportunities to do things I never thought I would do such as field work. In my previous studies, I was a chemist. More specifically, I studied biochemistry (cell signaling pathways). The thought never crossed my mind of going out in the field, sitting in a canoe in the middle of the lake collecting water samples or going to collect mud and analyzing it. Not to mention travel to a different country just to do field work.

Recently, I had the privilege to visit The University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario to partake in a massive project doing field work with the ecohydrology group. When I volunteered for this project I did not know what I would be doing or where it would be, all I knew was that they needed some extra hands. Along the way I did received some information such as here is the schedule (which included overnight sampling), this is where you are going to be staying, and make sure you bring warm clothes. Now you might say why I didn’t ask, well it really didn’t matter because I was going to spend three weeks in Canada! However, by doing some research on their website I discovered that they were flooding a swamp to study its biogeochemistry.

As I started working, there were some really intense sampling days, which were 12 hours long and as I mentioned  before night sampling. Just imagine walking in the woods with just a headlamp and a flash light and having to take water samples at 1:00 in the morning. At times it was kind of scary because you had this fear of getting lost, but it was very exciting and I enjoyed every minute of it. That even included the last day, when I fell in the swamp. Yes, you read right I fell in, not once but twice. But what can I say, it’s all part of the experience and I just made the best of it.

So it must be said, while I was in Canada, I had a wonderful time. I got to meet so really neat people, who are doing some amazing research. I can only hope that I have many other opportunities just like that one. So as I embarked on this journey I won’t always know what to expect, but I am definitely going to make the very best of my experience!

Until Next!

Denisha Griffey

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