After four years in grad school, it can sometimes be a little strange to exit into the real world. Grinding through a PhD taught me far more than how to direct my own basic research. I developed leadership skills mentoring high school students, undergraduates, and junior graduate students. I developed communications skills teaching and presenting at conferences. I developed business skills competing in the University of Colorado New Venture Challenge, which just kicked off. And more than anything, I learned about working smart and not hard.
So where am I taking these skills? Dearest to my heart is Agribotix. As my readers have learned, Agribotix is a drone-based remote sensing company that provides actionable intelligence to farmers. We are just wrapping up a phenomenal first growing season where we provided data on more than one billion corn plants to dozens of growers and look forward to beginning to ramp up in the Fall. Fundraising efforts are just beginning to kick off and we are seeking at $2-3M initial round. While I am no longer full time at Agribotix, I am still deeply involved and have confidence that amazing things are coming.
Second, I am in the midst of writing a guide/memoir covering getting a PhD in the hard sciences. Based on my experiences and those I read about online, the vast majority of PhD students (including me, when I started) have very little practical information about how to succeed in graduate school. This ranges from where to apply, to what department to choose, to project and advisor selection, to day-to-day research, to post-graduation plans. I will be posting chapters here periodically and would love nothing more than to give back to a current crop of graduate students. I learned so much over that I would be more than willing to share before the book comes out, so please reach out if you are currently pursuing a PhD in the hard sciences and would like a totally objective, practical viewpoint.
Finally, in mid-August I began working in the Polymer Science and Materials Chemistry Practice at Exponent, the leading scientific and engineering consulting firm. The projects that have come through since I began have been a riot and it’s been really illuminating to learn how polymer science happens in the real world. In the next few months, after I have a little bit more experience under my belt, I will put together a presentation designed for current graduate students in the polymer/materials area to share what I wished I knew before beginning to work in industry. I’m also busy studying for the Chemical Engineering Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, which will be slightly more challenging than I anticipated because my undergraduate degree is not in Chemical Engineering.
That said, this website will undergo somewhat of a pivot in the next few months from primarily being designed to share my graduate research to, ideally, becoming a source of information for current and prospective graduate students. I learned a lot from my mentors throughout my studies and would like to take this opportunity to give back. I will try to write blog posts every week or so sharing some practical polymer science tips, excerpts from my book, and general commentary on the chemical and materials industries.
In the meantime, if you are a PhD or soon-to-be PhD student in the hard sciences, I would recommend checking out Philip Guo’s free E-book, The PhD Grind. Philip is in a more unique position than most graduate students, having graduated from MIT with a Computer Science Bachelor’s Degree and from Stanford with his Doctorate, but his book provides and honest look at life as a graduate student.
And finally, I am now in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I will write more about this later, but the city seriously need a PR department. Prior to arriving in Atlanta, I heard nothing but bad things, but this is an amazing city. A view of where we live in Midtown from the park next door is posted below.