2018 Retrospective

2018 was the best, and the most trying, year of my life. I’m hoping for more stability in 2019, while remembering the personal achievements I was able to come by in 2018 as a direct result of my circumstances.

The Good

I got my PhD! After 4 1/2 years of hard work, I defended my dissertation in March. Definitely a life accomplishment that will always remain among the top things I ever have or will achieve.

Yoga. I picked up yoga on January 1, 2018 as a new year’s resolution, and it transformed my life. From 35 yoga classes in 30 days in March (the month I also defended my dissertation and traveled back to Paris) to a trip to Washington, DC for a yoga festival, to accomplishing poses I never thought possible like triangle, full camel, and one legged wheel, to a new pursuit of mindfulness, yoga has brought so much good into my life.

Back to France. The week after my defense, I got to spend a week back in Paris visiting all of the friends I met when I was studying there last year, and it was lovely.

I started my dream job! I’m so happy with my role at Addgene. It is a great place to work because of my specific role, the support I’ve received, and the company culture. I’m very happy with my decision to take the Marketing & Communications Manager position there in November.

Move to Boston! I typically have a few big, long term life goals, and I achieved one of them this year with my move to Boston. It had been in my 3-5 year post-PhD plan, but getting here after just about 9 months was even better!

Giving. It feels satisfying to be able to give back to the scientific community in creative ways. I’ve enjoyed helping Letters to a Pre-Scientist grow even more this year, and contributing to initiatives at Addgene, also a nonprofit, has capped my year off on a high note.

Friendships. It’s historically been a challenge for me to make friends and keep up with old friends after I move. But this year, I’ve done a good job of keeping up with friends from Paris and Pittsburgh, and making friends in Charlottesville and Boston, despite so many moves.

The Ugly

My postdoc. It’s a shame that labs and departments that foster a culture of paranoia, lying, and overwork continue to exist. I’m disappointed that the NIH propagates a culture that either forces postdocs to stay in terrible situations or encounter crushing repayment obligations. I’m grateful that my circumstances allowed me to leave my postdoc fairly quickly.

So much moving. I’ve lived in 4 cities in the past 15 months. Despite enjoying each city (Paris, Pittsburgh, Charlottesville, Boston), that many moves in such a short amount of time has been a challenge on several levels.

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Aliyah is a scientist, writer, and advocate for equality in STEM. She currently works in marketing in the life sciences sector and as a freelance science writer. She is also a fan of yoga, world travel, and reality TV. You can find Aliyah on Twitter @desabsurdites.

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