Ever get the feeling that you’re attempting to cram too much information into your brain at once? This week I’m tackling q-PCR…or perhaps I should say I’m starting to tackle q-PCR.

As a “Jack of all trades, master of none” PhD student, I often find learning new techniques a bit of a minefield. I know I’m not alone, and that is a comforting thought but but where do I turn when the going gets tough?

  • First port of call – my fellow students/lab techs: Sometimes just moaning to a sympathetic ear can be extremely helpful, even if the technique/plant/equipment is completely alien to them – I often find that just talking about your problem can begin to clarify things
  • Take a break! As with so many things just stopping for five minutes (or even a day “Shock! Outrage!”) can let your subconscious work away on a problem with your active engagement. Although I often feel that if I’m not actively working on a problem I’m being lazy, this isn’t often the best strategy. So I have a coffee or I go away and sleep on it
  • Talk to my supervisor – Yes I said it, this really can be helpful, why not give it a try? I might come away with more questions than answers but this is all part of the learning process
  • The internet – Since I entered higher education I have had many reasons to be grateful that I live in an age of relatively open and easy to access information on a wide variety of topics. However, for a master of procrastination like myself, turning to Google when I get stuck can provide a few stumbling blocks – I have to know when to stop looking for information and when to start using it…I’m still learning

Well these are just a few of the options I have been exploring this week in my qPCR quest – do you have a steadfast coping mechanism when learning gets tough? Please share in the comments

Until next time. C


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