The first big local (Australasian) psych conference is coming up in a week or so. The Experimental Psychology Conference (EPC) is to be held in Melbourne this year and a large contingent of cognitive and perception psychs are busy getting their presentations and posters in order, booking flights and accommodation, and sussing out what mischief they can get up to when south of the border. While I’m not attending (Matt, Will, and James are, so stay tuned to see what they trouble they cause in Melbourne), I am keenly monitoring the process of creating a poster because I'll hopefully be presenting one in San Francisco later this year!
The first major milestone of the PhD is confirmation and tends to happen about a year into the program. Up until this point you aren’t technically a PhD student, you are a PhD candidate, which essentially means the university hasn’t committed to you or your research yet. You need to convince a panel, representing the school/faculty/university, that your planned research is interesting, innovative, and feasible enough to continue. Since a lot of the latest batch of PhDs started about a year ago we are having a lot of PhD confirmation talks. The ones I’ve seen so far have gone really well. It’s great to hear what projects other people have been beavering away at. I’ve found attending conftalks helps me overcome the facade of pretending to understand what my friends are researching. There are one of two outcomes for me: either I finally understand what they do, with the help of their finely-tuned explanations and diagrams, OR, I still don’t understand, which by this point is no longer hidden by the facade but exposed as glaring fact (“What do you mean you don’t get it? You were at my conftalk, right?!”)
I can’t give too much away about this, it’s terribly secretive (though I’ve already been chastised for blabbing to anyone who’ll listen). It’s a tense game of cat-and-mouse that lasts for two weeks, played exclusively among psych students and faculty, and not for the feint-hearted. I won’t say any more about the actual game but I will say that it’s a really fun way to get to know others in the school. Currently playing are a bunch of second-years, some masters students, some PhD students and some RAs. You never know who’s coming for you... Anyway, if you are interested in finding out more please visit this site.
So, fun times around the school. Almost makes a fella wanna do a PhD ;)
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