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Nernst

It wasn't until I was walking back from today's lecture that I remembered a funny-to-me story about the Nernst Equation.

When I came out to Arizona to interview for grad school, I wasn't all that sure I wanted to go here. I was strongly contemplating taking a year off and refocusing my grad school applications. One of the big factors that convinced me otherwise was a grad student in the lab, K. He was offbeat, gruff, and a touch crude. He made it clear that grad school was something that human beings could do - it wasn't just for the prim and proper. Thank goodness for that.

In the early years, he was also one of the people who taught me a ton of different things about ants, and since he was further along in the graduate program, I got to observe and learn as he went through the various hoops towards earning his degree.

There weren't many hoops, really - just writing your dissertation proposal, then defending it and passing an oral comprehensive exam administered by your five dissertation committee members. Typical rite of passage stuff. Of course, many things can go wrong, so you can't take your comps meeting lightly. Also, on some occasions, faculty members use comps as a time to show off to each other, so wise graduate students need to consider the chemistry of their committees very carefully.

When the time came, K was ready to go in fighting. He was certain that one of his committee members, an insect physiologist, was going to ask him to derive the Nernst Equation on the chalkboard. Then, when the time drew near for the big showdown, he just said, "Well, they can't fail me now!" and headed in.

...I am pretty sure he didn't have to derive the Nernst Equation. But now, any time I teach it, I'm going to think of K.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1200802.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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