“YES” say graduate students. Get to know what some GSDS members like to do in their free time, when they are not working in lab.
What do you like to do in your free time outside of research?
Tarnuma Tabassum: I have a food vlog with my roommate, Nooks. I also like to do photography. Check out my photos here: 500px.com/tarnumatabassum. I like to work at coffee shops and travel to new places.
Michael Hughes: I have a beautiful 5-year-old daughter who I spend time with. And, I like to play with my French bulldog, Burton Guster a.k.a. Gus.
Katie Rosenthal: I like writing and performing slam poetry. And eating.
David Cao: I like to travel and see new places, take pictures, and sing in the UCSB chamber choir.
Ben Luginbuhl: I like to read science fiction books and watch videos about other science stuff, like documentaries about nature and space. If I can get around to it, I also like hiking and camping.
Niva Ran: Recently, I haven’t had any free time. I actually really enjoyed rock climbing a while back, so yeah, I like to rock climb. I also enjoy dancing in my free time.
Humberto Foronda: I like to play music. Specifically, I like to play guitar, both electric and acoustic, and write songs—I have written 3 songs so far. Also after work, if it’s still light outside, I like to hop on my bike and ride around.
Menaka Wilhelm: Earlier this year I started taking classes at the ceramics studio on campus. After my third round of the beginner’s class, I can finally make things on the potter’s wheel! One of my favorite things about the studio is actually the wide range of people who show up there—community members and students can both take classes, which helps me remember that a whole world exists outside of graduate school.
Megan Butala: In my freetime, I love to have a combination of playing and physical activity—weight lifting, yoga, playing outside—and indulging in foodie culture, especially getting amazing food from the farmer’s market and cooking.
Sam McCuskey: There’s what I would like to do, and what I would actually do. I guess I am kind of an arts and crafts person. One of the things I like to do is mono-printing. I would say that it is similar to making devices in lab. You start with a plate made out of gelatin, cover it with acrylic paint, move the paint around to create patterns and pull off the print. And you can add more paint to create layers and different designs. But, what I actually do most of the time is watch netflix—I only recently started watching game of thrones. I also try to cook new recipes when I get a chance.
Chelsea Catania: I do a lot of yoga and rock climbing and a lot of science outreach things. You know, it’s hard to answer this question because I don’t have a lot of free time to do all these things . But I do/have done yoga pretty regularly. I have also been doing cross-fit for the last six months. I have this significant jigsaw puzzle called “Garden of earthly delights,” it has 9000 pieces, and me and my roommates have been working on it for the last 2 years. It is a 7 x 4 ft puzzle, which is bigger that our floor, so we have used a pulley and plywood to suspend it. I don’t think people noticed it before. They notice it now that it is almost complete. Also puzzles are a great metaphor for graduate school; every experiment is like a piece of the big puzzle.
Emre Discekici: I enjoy spending time with friends.
Wennie Wang: Anything related to food (e.g., cooking, baking). Since coming to UCSB, I have also become much more outdoorsy, and I just signed up to learn scuba-diving.
Martin Seifrid: I like to explore Santa Barbara, especially the nature around here. And, of course, the food and drinks too.
Caitlin McDowell: I wish I had more time to cook—I really enjoy it. But surprisingly, I am not very scientific about it. I think cooking is mostly about being instinctive rather than methodical, like in lab. It has led me to some amazing discoveries and also, some terrible mistakes.
Stephanie Fronk: With my little bits of free time, I like to do way too much running, preferably on the mountains and on the trail; it’s nicer on my legs and I get some really good views.
Any tips for staying sane in graduate school?
Tarnuma Tabassum: Make sure you find time for things other than research. If something doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up. Because, things work 1 % of the time.
Michael Hughes: I have lots of tips. I could write a book of tips.
Chapter 1) Have a non-science related hobby.
Chapter 2) Get good sleep.
Chapter 3) Find your own style of work and develop your research schedule around it.
Katie Rosenthal: Have good friends. Like the people you work with. I would go nuts if I did not enjoy being around the people I work with.
David Cao: Read Michael’s Chapter 1). Singing keeps me sane, so find a hobby that keeps you sane too.
Ben Luginbuhl: I make sure I take one weekend day off. On that day, I like to go to the beach and read. Or, I go downtown and shop, or do other chores to maintain life. I think it’s a good idea for me to take some time off to make a to-do list about once a week; it helps me stay focused.
Niva Ran: Choose hobbies and be very consistent with them, even when you’re busy.
Humberto Foronda: Find something to do outside of school that has no connection with your research. For instance, find a group of friends, or an activity that has absolutely nothing to do with your research—they can still be grad students, but you should be able to have a conversation with them about, I don’t know—birds, or food, or anything non-research related.
Menaka Wilhelm: I feel the most sane when I drink less than 4 cups of coffee per day, take real breaks for things like lunch and exercising, and remember that everyone’s path is different, and I get to make what I want of my project/class/degree
Megan Butala: Having outside endeavors and a sense of purpose in grad school is critical to maintaining a sense of self. Additionally, taking time out of the lab to establish a community is important for me. Finally, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UCSB has been an amazing resource for me in managing the stress and anxiety I have encountered professionally and personally during grad school.
Sam McCuskey: One tip that I got from a past GSDS speaker, Caroline Ajo-Franklin, that stayed with me was: “In general, don’t assume everybody is out to get you. People generally want you to succeed. Things are way less stressful when you collaborate rather than compete. That way you’ll have better relationships with the people around you.” I am also co-advised and over-time I have learned that it is a lot about finding a way to do your own thing and being the captain of your own ship.
Chelsea Catania: I think one of the most important things I have done is talk to other people. Especially when you are so involved in your own research, it is hard to realize that it’s not just you, but a lot of other people are also going through the same thing.
Emre Discekici: Making sure you make time for fun and taking breaks when you can is an important aspect of graduate school.
Wennie Wang: Write things down/keep records of things methodically. Good things, bad things, mundane things. It’s easy to lose track in the process of grad school. Externalizing events will help you see the bigger picture and reflect.
Martin Seifrid: Take a step back. (Run away, is what I am saying).
Caitlin McDowell: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of the situations that have been the most stressful for me, have been because I have refused to ask for help. People are a lot more compassionate than you believe them to be, whether that’s your peers or your boss. Also, remember that you are not only a graduate student; you are a person too.
Stephanie Fronk: I have learned to not be in lab seven days of the week. I did that for a while, and I went crazy. Six days is okay, because you really need that one day to do your chores and get your life back.
Describe your PhD. journey so far in a word, phrase, sentence, picture, or sound.
Tarnuma Tabassum: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
Michael Hughes: Falling out of a tree, but not yet landing
Katie Rosenthal: It is like the average molecular weight vs. % conversion graph for step polymerization. I imagine that when I am finally on an uphill slope of knowledge and comfort, it is going to be time to leave, and I am going to have to start from the bottom somewhere else.
David Cao: Beethoven’s 5th symphony
Ben Luginbuhl: The sound liquid Nitrogen tanks make when they are venting extra pressure.
Niva Ran: “WOW!” we can start with that. Ok, that wasn’t my answer. **long pause of contemplation** I’ll get back to you.
Humberto Foronda: Wow, I can’t believe that worked.
Megan Butala: Growth, in every aspect.
Sam McCuskey: Nose to the grindstone.
Chelsea Catania: It’s like trying to solve a huge puzzle while living with a cat.
Emre Discekici: Persistence
Wennie Wang: Humbling
Martin Seifrid: Aarrgh
Caitlin McDowell: It is like being lost in a desert; you feel pretty desperate, and it seems like you have been there for days. But you are actually only a mile away from the town, and you can’t see that from where you are. My entire PhD. journey so far seems like I have just been circling around that town, and I guess one day I will get there.
Stephanie Fronk: Changes in dynamics. Things go really fast, and then slow down, and really fast again.