A day in the life

Today is Monday, 20 May 2013 (yes, sorry for the delay in posting)

I am working at Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering

This is a day in my life.

  • 8 am – It is a sunny morning in California.


    I get up, shower, have breakfast and walk to work, admiring the blooming jacaranda trees on my street.


  • 10 am – Work is underway.


    I spend the morning trying to install a new software package which will eventually allow me to do some cool modelling and parameter analysis of biochemical reaction systems. This bit of software requires some other software, which in turn requires some other software. After spending nearly all morning googling exotic error message, I finally manage to install all the required packages.

  • 12:15 pm – I check my e-mails and reply to some of the more urgent ones.
  • 12:45 pm – I go for lunch, enjoying the beautiful May weather outside.


  • 1:15 pm – Back in the office, I read a paper draft my work study student has sent me, and start adding my own sections and figures to the paper.
  • 3 pm – As part of the “Women Mentoring Women” programme at Caltech, I have this year been mentoring a grad student. This afternoon, we meet for coffee to discuss her plans for medical school, books, and cats.


  • 4 pm – Back working on my paper draft.
  • 4:30 pm – My boss just came in to schedule a meeting for tomorrow. I take some time to prepare for the meeting and e-mail relevant documents to both my boss and my co-worker.
  • 5 pm – Back to working on the paper draft, and finally get it into a state that I am happy with. Will it be Ice Cream Day soon?
  • 5:45 pm – Do some reading.
  • 6:45 pm – It’s evening on campus. Get a sandwich for dinner.


  • 7 pm – Back at work, wrap up, update my lab notebook, make plans for tomorrow.
  • 7:30 pm – Choir rehearsal on campus. At the moment, we are learning bits of Beethoven’s 9th for commencement. Good fun.
  • 9:45 pm – Home from choir, I spend half an hour doing some housework, while listening to an audiobook (Bring up the Bodies, part 2 of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell). Listening to audiobooks is literally the only way I can trick myself in doing any household chores at all. (The rest of it is handled by my robot vacuum cleaner. Yay robots!)
  • 10:15 pm – I make myself some tea and tackle my final exam for my EdX Statistics Course. Longer than I expected, but fortunately not hard.


  • 11:30 pm – I skype with by boyfriend in London. It is the last thing I do before I go to sleep and the first thing he does after waking up. I am insanely grateful to be living in an age where technology allows us to do that. Where it is possible for two people, across an ocean and a continent, across an entire night on earth, to connect.