A mock PI works out

A major task that’s ever so grueling,
The endeavor of completing my Ph.D.
Perhaps a new hobby to make it more interesting,
One that I came upon through my own study.

When there’s a published article to be read,
I’ll dive straight into the introduction.
Then, there’s a challenge to be met,
Although in a hypothetical situation.

With just the introduction and nothing else covered
But the aims of the published study clear in mind,
With the scientific knowledge and skills I’ve acquired,
What methods would I have used that are fine?

Assuming the role as a principal investigator,
Obtaining novel data is what I’m geared toward.
Techniques and strategies that make me a prolific researcher,
Published results needed to put my best foot forward.

To have the gene encoding it amplified and identified,
Its catalytic mechanism unraveled by structural biology,
Site-directed mutagenesis to get its active site verified.
I think I have got a good grasp of enzymology.

The composition of the microbiota be subject to analysis,
The bronchoalveolar lavage fluid be collected for proteomic profiling,
Assays be performed to detect changes in lipid synthesis.
Getting it all right is a confidence booster so overwhelming.

Flow cytometry to investigate possible T-cell polarization,
RNA silencing experiments to elucidate the cell signaling pathway,
Immunohistochemistry to visualize the cellular localization.
My reasoning is all sound, but I won’t be carried away.

Getting the techniques and approaches right
Does not mean that I would be experimentally productive.
Therefore, let’s turn to my mentors for their insight
That has enabled me to thrive and be innovative.

Science is great but addictive and sedentary.
May also bring harm insidiously –
Bad postures, aches and pains are cautionary;
I need to be humbled constantly.

A second hobby I’ve cultivated,
A need to counter my sedentary lifestyle.
Before my academic pursuit is vindicated
I just need to go the extra mile.

A hobby that kills two birds with one stone
To destress and slim down with benefits I’ll always emphasize,
A rigorous workout regime of my own –
Nothing will ever beat regular physical exercise.

Confronted with stressful and demanding commitment,
With a constant need for high brain power and mental agility,
Our physical health and fitness always an essential requirement,
Although it’s too easy for us to see exercise as frivolity.

When the stress of my Ph.D. takes a toll on me,
Just taking a walk helps me put things into perspective,
But a full rigorous workout is better than one can see.
It’s a fountain of youth that keeps my mind productive.

Is the thought of adding to my regime something new
Or becoming a part-time certified personal trainer plausible?
Rock climbing, scuba diving, fencing, just to name a few,
Either way will render my life as a scientist even more sustainable.
If only my efforts to complete my Ph.D.
Endure as well as running on a treadmill.
The need to listen to my mind and body –
They’re set to push me uphill.

The world of academia is relentless.
With the two hobbies, I hope to stay resourceful.
Despite my faith, I’m not entirely fearless –
Time and opportunities are not plentiful.

Vivian Tang Vivian Tang is a graduate student at the School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Western Australia.