How to Rock a PhD

Barbara Kalebić (ESR7)

Everybody thought I was a bit of an eccentric for wanting to be out there looking at the stars, but I still do.”

These are the words of a famous PhD astrophysicist who is the least known for his contribution to science. After the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May (or should I say Dr. May) won the hearts of fans around the world, he took one step further in his academic achievements as well. May’s superb guitar skills, enviable musical career, and PhD at the age of 60 made him become one of the “big brains in heavy music”.

Being in a band takes dedication, tireless practice, and determination. Obtaining a PhD takes even more. To keep a balance during your PhD journey, you must keep moving forward constantly, always striving for new experiences and knowledge. It is important to find your rhythm; to tune your instrument!

In addition to persistence and practice, PhD as well as the music, requires a talent. A special talent that is not perceptible as a sense of humor or guitar skills, but becomes apparent over the years. And that is revealed over the years. Not everyone can, for example, spend 8 hours in front of a digester holding fingers crossed to get explainable and satisfying results or leave family and hometown in pursuit of science. You also need a particular talent to fit in a new work and living environment, as well as to express the importance of your work to people around the world.

As in the world of music and fame, the key is to present your work in an interesting and accessible way to your targeted audience. Every audience is always looking for more and more, so you need to update them on time, be up to date and feed these hungry scientific mouths.

A good part of getting a doctoral degree in a foreign country is that you are never alone, as much as you sometimes seem to be. You have your band behind you, with enough support from every member. Playing together makes it easier for everyone to achieve their individual goals.

Furthermore, great things take time, as we can see from May’s example, so it is essential not to give up after the first failure. Giving up makes us even more disappointed when we realize that we are never going to finish what we started a long time ago.

To sum up, the main ingredients you need to rock a doctoral degree are:

  • a melody that is easy for you to follow,
  • a band you trust,
  • a small but enough support,
  • more gigs mean more experience for the final big concert,
  • desire to never stop learning,
  • hard work and discipline, and
  • surplus of luck (it is certainly not out of the question)!

So, don’t hesitate because there are “new horizons to explore”!