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Photo taken by me in 2003, Cinque Terre, Italy

33 days until my dissertation is due to my committee. I’ve struggled with finding the big theme that links my collection of results together. At first, I tried to connect them as a progression of logical steps, but  hindsight points out the flaws in the logic. How do I tell the story of my science?

Then it hit me. A thesis is a story of exploration. I was treating it like a story of results, like my short seminars. The technology my group uses is by no means standard practice in labs across the country. It’s rather strange to most people when they first see it in a presentation. I have to spend a lot of time teaching my audience about how to think about this technology, so that they can understand how we use it. That doesn’t leave time to talk about the exploration and experimentation. That’s why I was struggling to write.

I took the photo above in 2003 when I was doing a study abroad program in Florence, Italy. Our group took a weekend trip to Cinque Terre, a string of five towns on the coast in northern Italy. Most of the group spent the day at the beach. I hiked the trail that connects the five towns, stopping to explore each one, getting a bite to eat, some gelato, or refilling my water. From the last town, I took the train back to the first. To this day, I still remember that feeling of accomplishment when I returned to the hotel. I wanted to hike the trail, so I did.

This photo brings back those feelings….excitement, amazement, contentment. My thesis is like the story of my hike, just with some chemistry terms thrown in there. It’s the story of an adventure.

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It’s going to be a quite an exciting year for me as I transition from doing science to writing about it. In a couple of months, I will be finishing my Ph.D. 10 days later, I leave to go to Germany for three months for an internship. I’ll be working communications at the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates. More about that later.

I planned to start this blog as a place to share my adventures in Germany, but then I realized that they won’t end there. I hope to continue this throughout the year to share my view of the world with you, from new places I visit to inspirations from daily life. Enjoy!

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