Hello, World

My name is Lissa.  I’m a PhD student candidate (hells yeah!).  I am starting a dissertation blog.

There are two reasons for that.

The first is very personal.  I wanted to chronicle my year(s) as a dissertator, and all of the thoughts and feelings and frustrations that come with it.  I have a journal that I’ve used during my graduate school years, but I’ve posted in it sporadically and I’ve realized that I have a lot of feelings that graduate school dredges up.  So I want the opportunity to scribble them down, get them off my chest, and reflect upon them years from now when I am past this point.

The second is more communal.  Throughout graduate school, I’ve turned to other grad student blogs (and young academics’ blogs) as a source of comfort and commiseration.  I’ve realized that there are many others out there who feel the same as me, and that helps me press on.  But I’ve seen that there are very few that actually cover the graduate school process itself, and especially writing the dissertation – most of them are by early career professors who are getting tenure.  So I’m hoping by throwing myself out there, I can shed some light on the process of writing a dissertation for other people who may be coming up behind me.

So here’s a little about me, professionally.

-I’m in my late 20s; I went to graduate school directly after undergrad.

-I’m getting my PhD in an interdisciplinary social science field.  I defended my proposal two weeks ago, so I am truly all-but-dissertation.  Broadly, I study the ways in which people’s behaviors affect their health.

-I’m unsure about my eventual career path.  I know I want to do a postdoctoral fellowship in research for 2-3 years.  But after that, what?  Part of me wants to be a professor at a R1 university, and make a name for myself in my field while teaching some awesome classes and mentoring undergrads and doctoral students.  Part of me wants to devote myself to teaching at a small liberal arts college.  Another part of me, though, wants to go take a research position at a think tank, NGO, or government agency.  I think I would enjoy most of any of those three jobs.

-Whatever it is I do, I can see myself rising through to administration.  So if I go the university route, I’d like to be provost some day, maybe even president.  And if I go the other way, I would maybe like to run a national research institute or center.

And personally:

-I’m married to a great guy.  I love him, and he’s very supportive of my PhD pursuit.  We have no children.

-I just started running, so I wouldn’t quite call myself a “runner” yet.  My short-term goal is a 5K, and my longer-term goal is to run a triathlon.

-I love video games, tech gadgets, and anime.  I am the consummate nerd.

-In my spare spare time, I like volunteering in the community.  I mentor some high school kids and also volunteer teach the SAT.

I plan to write about these things.

1. My experience writing the dissertation, and as an advanced graduate student in general.  Part of this may be reflections over earlier parts of graduate school, including the Dark Ages (aka years 3 and 4).

2. My speculations/feelings about my career and my future aspirations.

3. General musings about academia in general, extrapolated through reading and my own experiences.  I go to a lovably screwy university, so I have a lot of feelings about that.

4. My reactions to the news, politics, and current events through the lens of a social scientist.  The reason is because I do want to be able to reflect on the context of my life as a dissertator, but also I want to be able to look at how writing a dissertation (and studying for a PhD) has changed the way that I view things.  And given my field, pretty much any news about people is relevant to my field as a whole (and probably my subfield in some messed way).  Reading the news is the first thing I do every morning, even before checking my email (which is evil anyway).  Most of my interests lie in health, education, science, and a touch of economics.


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