A Day in the Life


Task distribution in a week

by Shannon –  Scientists don’t have “typical days”.  Any particular day may find us performing research, advising, teaching, giving a presentation, writing a manuscript, working on grant applications, or endlessly dealing with administration. On Monday, June 5, 2017, I decided to document my day.  It was a good day to document – not too stressful – but shows the type of things I think about in a typical 16 hour day.



6:30 AM:  My daughter Grace comes in to tell me that she is hungry.

6:45 AM: First email check of the morning. Emails from US and Australia to respond to. Goal planning lists from students. Review request from a journal and more paperwork on a grant application. Here we go!

7:00 AM:  My husband brings me my first transfusion of coffee for the day, which he makes every morning out of self preservation.

7:35 AM: Grace wants a “high ponytail” as she does every morning.  I frantically put it up so she doesn’t miss school, realizing that I forgot to comb my own hair.  Hurry.

8:00 AM:  Ride to work on the little golf cart that transports between the faculty housing and campus.  Quickly surf the News on the way – Fox News, BBC, NPR, Times of India. What is going on with the US?

8:15 AM:  Arrive at work.  Sit down to respond to emails. First meeting starts at 9:00. Need to print out permission for Grace’s after school activities. She wants to play basketball and not soccer.

9:00 AM:  Student is a no-show for meeting #1. Work on something called a “Grant Inquiry”, which basically requires me to fill out the exact same information as was already the full grant application, but in a new Word document. Feels like unnecessary busy work.  Remember to call the dean today!

10:00 AM:  Student meeting #2. Student arrives and I have a blissful 30 minutes of discussing only science.  I love my students, and enjoy working with them towards their goals. Happy.

10:30 AM:  Send grant inquiry to grants office for review. Start submission of a manuscript.  Why are the journal submission systems so confusing?  Need to fix keywords.

11:00 AM:  Student meeting #3. Another 30 minutes of bliss.  When will our new car get delivered?  Call dealership. Delivery some time tomorrow.

11:30 AM:  Continue submission. Manuscript needs to go through length check software.  Internet goes down in the middle.  Call Petter for advice.

11:45 AM:  Internet back up. Restart submission process. Forgot to fix keywords!  Restart again.

12:00 AM:  See new summer interns in lab.  Must ask them about their projects. Remember to call the dean!

12:30 AM:  Submission almost ready.  Email from Administration asking urgently for my Teaching summary from 2016-2017.  Forgot to remind Petter about Grace’s after school activities – call and confirm pick up time at 4:30. Is basketball today or tomorrow?

1:00 PM:  Submission ready!  Minor error in manuscript formatting.  Fixed.  Don’t forget to call the dean!  Also – need to discuss future of Coffee Board project. Important! Set reminder.

1:30 PM  Manuscript submitted. Speak with interns briefly.  See about setting up intracellular rig in lab.  What is that DAQ board? I have not seen this type before.  Ponder circuitry.

2:00 PM  Skype chat with collaborator about new manuscript. Problems tying the story together.  Some holes need to be fixed to get it past reviewers.  Suggest a few more experiments. Need to get manuscript together – put on week’s to do list.

2:30 PM  Rig not communicating with computer. DAQ board is very strange.  Unfortunately, no time to think about it as have to prepare for next meeting.

3:00 PM  Creche committee meeting, for which I am currently chair.  5 agenda items and discussion on refurbishment of creche. Requested renovations not allowed, need to restructure plans. Meeting interrupted by one of the member’s issue with bus drop off for their child.  Forgot to call dean!

4:00 PM  Reminded to process request for new computer since now  USB and lightning ports are no longer working on laptop.  Request quote from IT department.

4:30 PM Another faculty’s son shows up to volunteer.  Quickly think of a small insect collection project he can do.  Ask student about progress on intracellular rig.  Remind another student to email collaborator.

5:00 PM Confirm Grace is home from after school activities.  Start to look for Uber to go home.

5:30 PM  Realize UBER is trying to find me a cab in Chennai.  Wait for shuttle instead.

5:45 PM  Shuttle.  Think about dinner.

6:00 PM  Home.  Grace at birthday party since her homework is finished with Petter. Petter has also made dinner – he is awesome!

7:00 PM Send quotes to technician for help with computer purchase. Remind students about missing blog entries.

7:30 PM  Put Grace to bed. She is angry that I have a volunteer and it isn’t her. Crying ensues.

9:15 PM  Petter wakes me up in Grace’s bed where I have fallen asleep. Make sure permission slips and forms are in Grace’s backpack.

10:00 PM Go to bed, which involves a few more emails about meetings coming up and reminder list for next day – especially grant renewals!

11:00 PM  Sleep.  Good night.



  One thought on “A Day in the Life

  1. Nakibul Islam
    June 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

    You are really a very busy person… How do you manage all this ? It’s really a challenging task for you everyday……☺☺☺


    • June 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      I have a great support system of family, students and friends 🙂 – S


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