Best Defenses

One of the big hurdles at the end of a graduate degree is the defense. During this illustrious event, the student shows off what they’ve been doing for the past two or more years, depending on the degree. It’s a rather festive environment, and friends of the defender will often bring baked goods that are meant to lull the graduate committee (i.e. the deciders of the defender’s fate) into a sugar coma (more on defense snacks here). If only they would eat enough before the defense begins…

Biology is a highly diverse field, so when someone defends their thesis or dissertation you know you are going to learn something. Today I learned about the effects of early life stress and/or infection on adult male zebra finch coloration and adult female zebra finch mate choice. I also learned about the costs bacteria must pay to create the building blocks of their little lives. Amazing, on both counts.

I’ve been to quite a lot of defenses at this point. I’ve seen a couple that were ‘meh,’ but for the most part I’ve been incredibly impressed and proud of my friends for all of their hard work and their eloquent ways of talking about their complicated research. The defenses I saw today were part of this latter group.

So the defense is an important milestone to the graduate student defender, and their research is important to the advancement of science. My Master’s mentor used the analogy of a mosaic. He said that each piece of published science adds to the mosaic that allows for a clearer picture of the scientific truth. I like that…

Mosaic crop

A mosaic I made for my mom’s birthday a couple of years ago.

So congratulations to the two, brand new Masters of Science. I know they both have great things ahead of them. Smile

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