Materials Girl: Growing up

Mar 27, 2019
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[Posted on behalf of Materials Girl]

The Materials Girl column was ‘born’ in August 2007 while I was 19 and halfway through undergrad. Back then, it was puzzling that other guest writers never seemed to have time to post. Undergrad was as busy as life got, and it didn’t take THAT long to write, right? Ah, youthful innocence – and whining! Considering my earlier posts, it’s a wonder that Stu and Neil patiently let me gripe instead of slapping me upside the head and pointing out that being an undergrad is relatively easy (#firstworldproblems). Then again, perhaps that clueless-but-learning perspective is part of the reason why they not only chose an undergrad blogger, but also let her keep writing on the Sceptical Chymist through grad school and beyond. For that, I am incredibly grateful – and rather abashed.

This year marks a decade since I graduated high school (and took Stu’s infamous o-chem class)! Clichés aside, the years have flown by and memories have begun blurring, despite the acute instances where time crawled and stress tended to reach extreme peaks. Scrolling through the Materials Girl log shows increasingly long gaps between posts – I’ve become one of those busy, beyond-undergrads whose occupations previously were such a mystery…

Being done with school is sometimes a strange reward. There was comfort in the structure of knowing exactly what path to follow, give or take nebulous major tasks in grad school such as ‘do novel research’ and ‘write a dissertation’. Nowadays, I must admit to feeling a bit of sadistic glee when seeing others undergo the same struggles. Whether it’s spotting undergrads studying the night away in coffee shops, hearing new grad students panic over prelims and qualifying exams, or seeing candidates slave away to prepare a final defense, I can smile and say that they’re all doable tasks (if not painful memories). If I survived, so can they.

Now that I’ve made time/procrastinated sufficiently to draft a new post, it’s back to writing papers and looking for open positions to follow my postdoc. Fingers crossed!


Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

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