Sunday, 20 March 2016


It finally happened. On Friday, I had the graduation ceremony, conferring me with my PhD.

People ask me how it feels - it feels surreal. The work is ongoing - today I was in at work, entering data for another paper. My career in research is not over, only just starting. The postnominal PhD is lovely but immaterial to what I do, in a way.

Melbourne was putting on some spectacularly shitty rainy windy weather, after a hot one the day before. I worked in the morning, and in the afternoon, my sister came into town. We met at Jimmy Watson's for a celebratory beverage and snack. This nice fella greeted us at the door. I told him we were celebrating the conferring of my PhD that evening. He took my hand and took us to the bar, asked the bartender to get some glasses and pour little sips into the glass for us to toast. We sat to drink a proper glass or two, intermittently chatting with the regulars. My sister, reluctant to leave her baby too long, headed down back down to the Peninsula, and I went to the uni to don Regalia, and wander about for an hour before we were briefed as to the ceremony protocol. Thankfully it was a PhD-only ceremony, so it was good and short.

Soon enough, we had the ceremony. We proceeded into the hall to choristers singing in Latin. I had no idea what they were singing, but it was very stirring. Finally my name and doctoral citation was read out, and I managed to doff my bonnet and shake hands and doff my bonnet again appropriately. I watched everyone else come down after receiving their testamur - the all had proud smiles.

The occasional speech was given by Professor Suzanne Cory, an eminent molecular biologist. There is now a Selective-entry secondary school named after her, in Werribee, where I grew up. It is good to see that smart westie kids are being valued and given access to special opportunities. There was nothing like this when I was going to school, 20 years ago.

This was my view for much of the ceremony.

All the bonnets being looked down upon by Jesus. Wilson Hall is beautiful. This view gave me shivers down my spine.

After the ceremony, my supervisor, who joined the academic procession, met me for a photo

He and his wife came back to my place for some drinks (Veuve Cliquot) and food. I remember before I started the PhD somebody saying to me that PhD supervisors and their students have a very special relationship. I didn't believe it at the time, but I do now. This bloke above is a very important, benevolent and special person in my life, and has seen me through a lot through the last 5 years. He believed in me when I struggled to believe in myself. His patience, kindness and generosity has made me want to do him proud.


The next day, I got up bright and early for Crossfit open 16.4 (you didn't think you'd come away without some xfit rantings, would you?). In a positively restrained fashion, I had only consumed 2 glasses of Veuve the previous evening and been to bed fairly early, so I felt fresh as a daisy.

The WOD was as follows

13 minutes AMRAP

  • 55 deadlifts, 43kg
  • 55 Wall Balls, 4 kg (Wall balls - squat to depth, come up, throw ball at 9 ft line, catch ball, squat to depth, repeat x55)
  • 55 Calorie row
  • 55 Hand release pushups (push-ups on toes)
I just about finished the row, so never got to challenge my push-up abilities. I don't think I have ever had such burn in my quads. I was happy that I gave it my best shot and worked steadily - 5 reps at a time. It bloody hurt - 55 reps of anything turns a strength workout into a bloody awful cardio/endurance workout.

There were some photos taken by a professional photographer. When I saw them, I have to admit I was horrified. I found them so unflattering. To paraphrase myself, I thought "I look so fat, I need to go on a diet". I promptly deleted all but one from my instagram feed.

I realised that I was being my own worst troll. I had a weekend celebrating the big things that I can do, that I never thought I'd be able to do, and I am getting upset about a few fat rolls. Exercise photos are never flattering, except if you are this guy. And here I am wearing actual lycra, which does a job but shows everything. I get around wearing lycra a lot, and rarely worry about how I look (if people don't like it, they can kiss my squat-enhanced arse). And I figure that any change to diet or exercise needs to come from a place of self respect and love, not self-castigation.

It's a terrible thing I do to myself. Hence I am gonna put my photos up here.

I am proud.

That might've been around rep 30. trying to keep my back active

Hittin' that rower after the wall balls. Legs were jelly



  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Congratulations! Den xxx

    Ps also love to see a positive comment on selective schools. I went to an all girls selective high school & it offered me so many opportunities. My parents who didn't even get the chance to go to school before migrating to Australia, had no idea what they were sending me to. My parents were thrilled we were getting an education and said to the 4 of us, you will all go to uni even if we have to push you through the door! Can't say how much we are indebted to them for their views.

  3. Well done again!! Such an amazing achievement and can't believe you were so restrained you only had 2 glasses??!
    Also, everyone looks awful exercising. The only people that don't are on infomercials using "exercise" machines that you just stand on and they wobble your fat bits away. Good on you for actually doing it! xx

  4. Congratulations! Seem to remember Suzanne Cory - she went to the same Cambridge college as my guy - as did Heidi's hubby - only many years apart. Such a small world. My cousin was awarded a Ph.D. last year - the first in my Dad's family. We're v proud of her. Pammie

  5. You should be proud indeed! Congratulations on your PhD, and well done on Crossfit Open. What an inspiration you are!

  6. Congratulations!! Well done and deserved. xx

  7. Well done, you. I have loved you sharing the ins and outs of the PhD! I really like that last black and white photo. Something about shows strength and determination. You go, Girl. Xxx