Thursday, February 28, 2008

Friday Seminars

One of the most annoying things about my graduate program is that we have mandatory Friday seminars. They are "mandatory" for everyone - faculty and students. During the second semester, our second year Ph.D. students give talks about various topics. Occasionally we have visiting professors speak (though those are usually on Thursday night - less mandatory; I only get in trouble for not going if it's something directly related to my area of interest). The rest of the empty seminar slot are filled by "senior students" or recent grads giving update about dissertation work.

In small doses, I think this is an excellent idea. However what ends up happening is that the same people get roped into speaking again and again about their dissertation data. And since my advisor is instrumental in these seminars, I am roped into giving these talks about once a year. I am supposed to give a talk about my dissertation data for the THIRD TIME in May. I have already given a talk about what I was going to write my dissertation on (the first time). I have given a talk about my exploration of most of my data (the second time). I am still working through all of my exploratory data (since the first time I gave my talk I hadn't finished collecting it yet) - what am I supposed to talk about in May?

Another thing that irritates me about these seminars is that they are scheduled from 2-4 in the afternoon. That pretty much kills my day. It's hard to motivate myself to start working on my dissertation stuff when I know I'm just going to have to break to go down and listen to people talk about the same things I've already heard them talk about at least once before.

Additionally while these are "mandatory", there are a lot of faculty members that rarely if ever darken the door of the lecture room. These are also random students who somehow get exempt from these because, "they're just so busy." While, I AM BUSY TOO! But my advisor says, "If I can't get my own students to come ..." Six years of this! I am tired of it. My small form of revenge is to find the facet of my dissertation that my advisor is least interested in, and I'll talk about that.


  1. Ah yes. Fridays were always pretty much a waste. But drinkies after!!

  2. I don't usually go out for drinks afterwards anymore. I've been here too long - I look around the room and I don't even know half of the people!! :) Lately FR, VF and I have been going to a movie and dinner as our after-seminar reward. Cheaper (ironically) then going to the bar. And we tend to all be able to get more crap done the next day.

  3. That's true, it was very strange by the time I left because I didn't know most of the young-uns. And I hear you about the next day - though in a few hours I will head out to the first (to my knowledge) sleepover LUPEC. Woo!

  4. Ooh, that's exciting! And tomorrow is another one of OUR LUPEC parties as well! Women + Cocktails = teh awesome! :)

  5. My dept. has seminar Thurs. AND Fri. both starting at 4pm. Thursday are invited speakers and sometime professors in our dept. or our university. Fridays, however, is called Graduate Circus and each week there are two students in the dept. who present their research, approx. 20min talks. The academic year starts with the senior students and ends with the first years. Therefore each grad. students talks in front of the dept. once a year. If you defend your thesis/dissertation/proposal you are exempt from grad circus for that year. Fridays are followed by beer hour in the beer room, which I have also stopped going to. I'm not very social, but you get a free beer the day of your talk. Thursday comes with free coffee and cookies. Fridays are good because they give students a chance to practices speaking and I like to hear what others are doing. We are told that Thursdays are good to broaden our knowledge of science but I'm constantly amazed by how poor the quality of presentations are for experienced professors.