PhD Defended and Electricity Planning Paper Published
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
The month of March was probably the most significant month of my academic career. PhD defense...done! Job search...done! Publish a paper....done!
March 21, 2019 by Destenie Nock
The #PhD journey has had many ups and downs. The first year I was bright eyed and ready to do research. The second year felt similar to sophomore year of college when the classes are tough, expectations (external and internal) are high and everything seems like an uphill battle. Then the third year of the PhD was similar to junior year when you feel like you are through the toughest years, you're no longer the new kid on the block, and people start treating you like the real adult you always hoped you would become. Then comes the last year of the PhD and the senior-itis hits. Its that feeling of "I have been here for X years...can't they just give me the degree?" You feel like you are crawling to the end because the marathon we call graduate school has led you to the point of exhaustion and the job hunt has put you over the top...leading to some intense dehydration.
It is crazy to think that of the 4 years I spent in graduate school one month could outshine them all. The month of March 2019 was the most significant month of my academic career. In this month the four years of hours spent coding and doing research on my computer boiled down to three major accomplishments:
On March 4th - I signed my job contract with the Engineering and Public Policy Department at Carnegie Mellon University meaning I am no longer stressed about how I will be paid the Fall following graduation. This also signified my last job interview for the foreseeable future.
March 18th - I successfully defended my dissertation titled "Power System Planning in Disparate Energy Systems: Modelling Sustainability and Electricity Access." The paper work was signed which means I have officially crossed from the ranks of PhD Candidate to the coveted position of PhD holder (aka now I can be called Dr. Nock).
March 20th - My paper on developing a framework for calculating the sustainability of a power system was published in Applied Energy. This paper is titled "Holistic multi-criteria decision analysis evaluation of sustainable electric generation portfolios: New England case study." Here I detail the method in which an electricity system and a sustainability model are combined to evaluate a region's power system (aka the mix of power plants supplying electricity) in terms of sustainability. Here I look at 7 different sustainability metrics which include air pollution emissions, costs, jobs, and more. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.03.019
Many people have asked me if I felt relaxed after the defense was done. The truth is that I haven't felt relaxed. Maybe the relaxed feeling will hit me as I am walking across the stage in May. There are still edits to be done, and I am mentoring two undergraduate student Honors Theses, which kind of feel like two mini dissertations. Even though I don't necessarily feel relaxed, I do feel excited. I am the first person in my family to earn a PhD, and sometimes I still can't believe I actually did it. I am so excited to be able to continue being a part of the academic community, to have the opportunity to work on such meaningful projects, and to try to be a role model for those coming behind me.
In the future I plan to continue looking at energy policy both in the USA and in a global context, as well as looking at how modeling efforts can be used to increase equity in different regions. I have my adviser, colleagues, and undergraduate research assistants to thank for helping me finish the research for the dissertation so quickly. You all have made the math stronger, and helped me grow as an engineer and researcher. Additionally I have to thank the friends and family that supported me through this academic journey.
Thanks for reading! If you would like to keep up with the journey, and never miss an update I welcome you to subscribe below (I promise not to spam you). Future blog posts will include research updates, motivation, my experience on the job market, as well as tips for setting yourself up for success.
Note about the author: As of March 18th Destenie Nock holds a PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her work focuses on using mathematics to understand the impacts of energy policies, how we can increase social welfare, and enhance a person's quality of life. Following graduation she will be a post-doc and then an assistant professor in the the Engineering & Public Policy Department at Carnegie Mellon. She earned a MSc in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Queen's University of Belfast, and two BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Applied Math at North Carolina A&T State University. In her free time she enjoys being involved in outreach activities at the local middle school, and with the Girl Scouts.