Fear of PhD Challenges?

(by Pau Gimeno)

The assessment of global uncertainty of predictions (i.e., pharmaceutical concentrations in rivers) in environmental modeling is a key issue and still an active research area. Throughout my whole academic and professional career I have been hearing that word (uncertainty) very often. In fact, I calculated it in almost every assignment I had to carry out during my Master and, luckily, the tools available by then were sufficient to this end.

But now I know I need new tools to estimate the total uncertainty of my model results as well as to calibrate our integrated model with available observation data. I’m facing a big challenge, the biggest since I started this PhD. To be honest, I am a bit scared because I do not know if I will manage to understand completely the statistics theory behind these new methods and afterwards apply it to my integrated model. And, what is worse, I do not know if my computer will be powerful enough to perform fast a large number of simulations. Additionally, I might need to learn new programming languages to conduct this task. All of these issues together sound like a big challenge which could “destabilize” anybody. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a little bit, and this is not a big deal but I believe other challenges that I have been facing before were still within my “comfort zone”. I assume this fear comes always with any PhD journey. That common fear of taking risks and eventually, learn from them.

As I have done to overcome any other obstacle in life, I will take it easy, little by little. I will try to divide this complex challenge into smaller and more achievable tasks. So, as my first task, I will read a sort of manual on how to implement this new method in a programming language familiar to me. Afterwards I will try to implement some examples. Then, I would apply it to our integrated model, etc. I do not know how far I will go nor if I will manage to get good results, but, I am pretty sure that I can learn a lot from this, which is the main reason why I decided to enroll in a PhD. I also know that this new method is picking up in environmental modeling applications so, if I do not manage to achieve my goal within the next couple of months, I still can try it in the future. By then, I would not start from scratch as I am doing now. Writing is actually good for self reflexion and cheering you up. Come on Pau! Come on TreatRec fellows! Because we are your friends, you will never be alone again… (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD4XqUzeJXA)

Originally published at treatrec.eu.

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