It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Walnut St, in Shadyside, Pittsburgh. Old Man Winter is upon us.

I’m finally back in Atlanta. The semester, oddly enough, wrapped up pretty well; still waiting on my thesis research grade to come in, but otherwise – all things considered – I can’t really mark it as anything but a success.

Here’s how it all went down:


It’s unfortunate, but I had to drop the course shortly before midterm. My other courses were entirely too high-priority relative to this one, which was an elective. As interesting as the course material was (we had been discussing the physics underlying supernovae when I’d dropped), graduating in May was more important. Maybe as a PhD student I could take another crack at astrophysics.

Computational Modeling and Simulation

This was the last course I needed in order to be eligible to receive my degree. In theory, by passing this class, I could have graduated this month, but I’m sticking around another semester to deliver my thesis and be a TA. At any rate, though my grades – both for the class (B) and on the final project (B) – weren’t as outstanding as I would have liked, I still did well and am now eligible to graduate. Plus, how many people have the opportunity to set up a simulation to observe the effects of disease spread and drug resistance in a population, given a particular dosage regimen?

Web Applications

My “fun” course proved challenging of its own volition. I was happily seated with an A+ in the course at midterm, having aced all three of my homework assignments. Given that, however, I opted to make the fourth and final assignment orders of magnitude more difficult, and by doing so I had to turn the assignment in late (for a 70/100). Furthermore, for the final project, my partner and I ran into time constraints; as M.S. students we were just too busy to devote enough time to really do a thorough job (at least, until last week when I submitted, albeit late, the complete product). I ended up scoring a 149/200 on the final exam, which was apparently a full standard deviation above the mean. Apparently that was enough to push me to an A-.

Thesis Research

Ho man, talk about a full-time commitment. I was technically only registered for 12 credits (roughly, a 4-hour course) but was doing about 18 or even 24’s worth for most of the semester, particularly in the second half. My work this semester was but the first phase in what will eventually culminate in the delivery and defense of a thesis in May, centering around the work of the Murphy Lab in protein localization. Specifically, my work involves deriving some method of comparison between the data of disparate sources of information, and as of two weeks ago, the first phase of this work was completed. I also co-authored two papers (set to be published in the next month or so), and am also working with some HCI folks to enhance to the UI of my thesis project for entrance into an upcoming competition.

Overall, busy busy busy; the sad part is, I have a lot of work to finish over the break as well. Thankfully, I polished off the last of my PhD applications a week ago (8 in total!), and am now making sure all my recommendations have been submitted and that all supporting documentation (GRE scores, transcripts…bleh) arrives safely.

Oh…and if, for some reason, anyone wants to buy me a Christmas gift, check out my NewEgg and Amazon wish lists I just set up! 🙂

Merry Christmahanukwanzaaramadanukkah!


About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
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