I didn’t do a whole ton of work, but the most enlightening day of my internship so far.
Sarah, one of the graduate students at the lab, did her thesis defense. She presented the research she has been working on for three years to a panel of four Ph.D’s and then defended it to them. It consisted of an hour long slideshow of her presenting her work and then another hour to hour and a half of questions from the Ph.D’s and from the public. Her paper was on the effects of certain pesticides on primary productivity in algal communities–something surprisingly relevant to what I’m doing in SEA-DISC now.
More than anything, it really showed me how academia works. These people are all part of the same organization, but some were downright cruel–starting with the assumption that Sarah was an idiot and proceeding from there. They really and truly tried to tear her apart. She defended herself wonderfully, and after all the questions were done she was locked in a room with the Ph.D’s as they discussed her fate….