Andreia Pereira just returned from her “PhD trip”, which started back in 2014. We asked her to build a PhD survival guide, which can help others who wish to embark on the same journey.
When to go?
Whenever you feel you need to learn new techniques and develop your skills to become a better researcher or, in my case, a better conservationist or ecologist. Or if you think it’s a good time to leave your parent’s house and start to be really independent!
The journey will be hard, so be persistent and resilient.
Not to miss:
Take the opportunity to go to summer schools, travel to meet other researchers and institutions.
Top 3 experiences:
I was fortunate enough to have a mixed grant and stay for 1.5 years in one of the most prestigious Universities in the world, the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), and learn from the best about acoustics and statistics;
Going to the North Pole, more specifically to Svalbard, and be a part of a ship survey to track and tag fin and blue whales. I will never forget the moments of tagging a fin whale in a small inflatable boat. Moby dick kind of stuff…;
Travelling to the USA twice, the first time for a conference and the second time for a summer school. It was really interesting to experience different environments.
Don’t dwell too much on things. Sometimes even if we try, try and try things will not happen, so just accept it and move on. And sometimes we simply do not have time to complete “The Plan”. You got this, even if something has to go. A good dissertation is a done dissertation (it’s a cliché, but for a reason).
Off the beaten track
Who would have thought that such a large animal (fin whale) would produce such a simple signal that can be “translated” into a “puk”?
What to bring home?
Resourcefulness is something that all PhD students get after so many years of adapting to the ever-changing conditions.
You can do your PhD and train for ultra-distance races. You can do a 100 km race just a couple of days after the submission of the thesis and another one after the defence. There is time for everything. And running it’s a good stress reliever!
There are a lot of “hidden” treasures for marine biologists in ocean-bottom seismometers.
Transforming my thesis chapters into several scientific articles.