Silhouette of a woman flashing peace sign

Time to Run

Monday, December 12, 2022

Last month, I ran a marathon. There was no official race. I tracked my miles using a phone. Each mile, each kilometer was an act of suspending disbelief.

For the last mile, I talked out loud to myself. I cheered, I cajoled. I sucked down packets of honey and dabs of salt. I muttered and exhorted until the last aching meters slipped by. Then it was over, with no fanfare except my own exhilaration and the lactate thrumming in my blood.

Running a marathon is often compared to doing a PhD, but I must insist that the marathon is easier. Maybe you are battling the burn of hydrogen ions in your muscles, picking your way through knee injuries or bad days, but the path is simple and free of self-reproach.

Sure, a PhD is a lot more interesting. Cracking the mysteries of biology is something that involves deep thinking and exciting empirical investigation. The people you meet in a PhD often teach you entirely new ways of thinking.

One of the most interesting aspects of doing a PhD at UCSF was not something I originally planned to do - becoming a part of Synapse.

Through Synapse, I have been lucky enough to host outstanding science writers like Esther Landhuis and Nicholas St. Fleur for our annual science writer speaker series.

During my time here, the incisive satire of Janice Goh accompanied us through some of the toughest times in recent years, and excellent reporting from Natalie Whitis has kept us up to date on the state of organized labor at UCSF. Countless others have shared their poetry, news reporting, photography, and more.

Something I absorbed while working with Synapse is that history is constantly unfolding all around us. Absorbing the impact of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests, the Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade, there has been plenty to see played out in the lives of UCSF trainees. Just last year, seeing a historic union formed among UC graduate student researchers was like witnessing another mark stamped into history.

But after four years of writing and reporting for Synapse and two years as Editor-in-Chief, the time has come to step down and make way for new leadership at the newspaper. In 2023, the Editor-in-Chief position will go to Natalie Whitis, who has been sharing the leadership since this fall. Synapse will continue its mission of bringing together UCSF trainees to promote discussion and highlight their voices.

I also want to thank our Managing Editor, Sylvie Sturm, who uses her professional expertise to teach graduate students how to write a coherent feature article and keep the newspaper running.

If you have an interest in putting your thoughts and observations into published form, please consider joining Synapse next year. I promise that working with Synapse is not nearly as difficult or consuming as a PhD or marathon training. We meet virtually every two weeks, and you can join our mailing list by reaching out at