NAME: Chinedum Eluwa
CURRENT TITLE: PhD Student (since August 2016) and Research Assistant at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States
AREA OF EXPERTISE: Hydrology and Water Resources
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE: 2
B.Eng (Civil Engineering) – University of Nigeria
M.Sc (Hydrology and Climate Change) – Newcastle University, United Kingdom
What’s your job like?
As a research assistant, my primary duty is to assist with my advisor’s research for 20 hours a week. He has a few different projects at the moment, but I work on a project to improve simulations of coupled human-hydrologic systems (e.g. water supply systems) by investigating the whole range of influencing factors including hydrology, economics, climate, existing infrastructure, governance and policy. I also have credit requirements for my PhD, so I spend a fair bit of my time working on class assignments.
What’s a typical day like?
As I am yet to take the PhD qualifying exam, my typical schedule is dotted with transit to campus, classes, research meetings, homework, literature reviews, and sleeping. The mix of these depends on what day of the week it is. I arrive at the office usually in time for one of these (class or meeting). When I am not at these, I spend time at my desk either finishing some class project or reading papers for my literature review or writing up a meeting report. There is an open layout at the office, so it is easy to look up once in a while and find someone to smile at during the day.
The fun part for me is participating in research meetings with the group and learning a bit more about individual and collective progress. The idea of research across the geophysical and social sciences seems fun. Some classes have been also quite enjoyable, but most of all, I enjoy the light talk at office parties/social hours and free food at research meetings.
For me, the first semester seemed a bit overwhelming. Managing my time was the biggest challenge for me, especially at the end of the semester when multiple class projects were due. I tried to reduce this workload by selecting a literature review as the individual project for one of my classes, so I was able to combine the literature review for my research with a class project. This was quite relieving.
What’s your advice to students?
Plan well and manage your time! This is advice to myself as well. But I never take my own advice, do I?