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First steps of a postgraduate student

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Topic:  |  Series: My Journey to PhD
zdroj: http://vtm.e15.cz/vybirame-nejdulezitejsi-vedecke-milniky-roku-2011Originally published in Nauzea - a magazine of the Czech Pharmacy Students' Association. (Only in Czech)

I was officially accepted as a PhD student at the Faculty of Pharmacy in June 2011. The enrolment was scheduled for several months later. Thus since October 2011 I've been a student again.

The system in the Czech Republic is somewhat illogical: even though you have an official acceptation letter for a doctoral programme, you are not a student in the two-to-three-month long gap between the end of under- and beginning of postgraduate studies. In practice it means, that you may not use the benefits which the student status brings and you have to take care of the health insurance.

I thought we are a strong grade in terms of a number of accepted PhD students. But when I followed the statistics of Assoc.Prof. Šimůnek, I found out it is not that serious. This year there are about thirty students in the first year of the doctoral studies, which is in comparison to previous years no significant difference. Only last year the number decreased to twenty students.

I was living in a flat with two PhD students from our faculty, when I was the undergrad. At that time I could hardly imagine, what they were actually doing at school. I found four years for a research project being a vast amount of time. Who knows why I got the impression, that in the periods of no-experimental work the girls get to be bored a lot. And it was not earlier than when I started to be interested in the possibility of me becoming a PhD student too, that I found out the things are going just completely different.

My first month and a half of PhD studies got into a frenetic pace. The first two weeks remained relatively still. I got time to pick up laboratory clothing, manage the ISIC card and other minor things, which you usually do, when you get back to a place, where you were not for more over a year. After that I turned myself into an analytical chemist for hundred percent.

At the moment I am working on analysis of tetracycline antibiotics in the environment, in waste waters. It comprises a lot of work with SPE (Solid Phase Extraction) manifold. Sometimes it happens that I stay in the lab until 9 pm. Beside the experimental work I take my time to study, too. I attend the lectures at our faculty: either to recover (to be a proper chemist) the knowledge that were forgotten during the summer pharmacy work or to get some very new. When there is an opportunity, I go to extern seminars and conferences.

Another thing that I devoted to in recent weeks was writing a research project for Grant Agency of the Charles University. In such a grant you introduce the project you want to work at in following 2 to 3 years. You have to write it very carefully. It involves a short research work about what is already known on that topic. You have to mention, how you are going to proceed, what will you need for the project and who will work with you. In case the project is approved by the agency, you get the required money. It will cover the material for the project, traveling to conferences, where you present your results and it is also a pleasant improving of the somewhat poor stipendium you get from the University.

At the end of January 2012, there is planned the Conference of PhD students at our faculty (see the Calendar section). You might hear of projects, which are the students involved in. Looking forward to meeting you there.

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