Dissertation Year: Day 136 -- Accepted proposal, submitted abstract, pilot data
This is a blog series on my (hopefully) final graduate school year, detailing my dissertation project from beginning (ish) to end.
TL;DR Things are coming together! Can't wait to collect my full dataset.
It's been a long time coming. My lab mate, Salif Mahamane, recalled my last proposal meeting was January 20th of this year. Nearly 11 months later, here I am. The proposal itself was nothing less than an oral exam of my dissertation project (which I still haven't outlined -- I swear I'm going to one of these days). There were a few differences this meeting than last. It seemed like the questions weren't over my head this time. Also, proposing a project that I was planning to do (versus a project that I had half-done already) was good.
This time around, my committee members were extremely supportive. Some still had lingering questions -- a few about why is Theory of Mind research important seemed to be hard to answer for people who didn't find "It's the facet of life that allows us to navigate social environments but know very little about" as compelling as I do. Also, I personally find it disingenuous of me to talk about the clinical side of ToM research since my project (and other projects I have) are focused on basic research questions. But nonetheless, I answered my questions to the best of my abilities and apparently that was sufficient for my committee to give me a thumbs up.
Abstract to HBM submitted
I've had this fantasy of presenting my dissertation work at HBM for a couple years now. It would have served as two purposes: 1) a type of vacation (originally, the conference was going to be in Puerto Rico; has now been relocated to Vancouver), and 2) discussing my work with a difference human cognitive neuroscience group (usually, I present at Cognitive Neuroscience Society).
Unsure about the exact rejection rate of abstracts at HBM, but it seems as though it is not negligible. I'm hoping it isn't as brutal as COSYNE (with something like over 50% rejection rate for abstracts). Other than my dissertation, my two research assistants are also submitting abstracts on projects that I would hope to also showcase. All three projects we have are ToM projects, so making a little nook of basic ToM research using EEG would be cool.
Also, heads up on my RAs -- they are graduating and are hoping to apply to grad schools in 2017. If you're interested in very capable prospective grad students who have grant writing experience, have taken multiple projects from inception through a manuscript draft, (hopefully) a publication record, and stats/coding experience, then contact me for more info! They are interested in social cognitive neuroscience, but are open to computational stuff as well.
Pilot data collection
We're technically still in pilot data mode. The first request from my committee was to collect and present pilot data since my planned analysis was very speculative (even though previous analysis techniques have been successful). Thus far, pilot data has looked promising -- the behavioral results indicate my task is working in the way it is suppose to work. The neural data are indicating some interesting analysis routes that can be taken (beyond what I presented for my dissertation).
The best part about all of this would be the fact that the pre-processing and data visualization pipelines have been coded now. Just need more data to feed into the scripts. Timeline for data collection seems to be 4-8 weeks (I'm assuming closer to 4 weeks since we are offering participant compensation in the form of money for this project). So ideally, February I'll have a data update on my blog.
Not-so-dissertation related update
I got a job! I announced getting a job on Twitter a week or so ago, so this news isn't new to my Twitter friends. For those who haven't heard, I'll be joining the Cincinnati Reds as a data scientist starting in 2017!
This does influence my dissertation, somewhat. It accelerates the process -- I'm now hoping to be done in May/June as opposed to my more flexible completion time of "sometime in the summer".
Whew! Big update.