Research Update – June 8th, 2022

As the days go by, we get ever closer to my defense date, and consequently, the thesis submission dead line (July 12th). My research update is that I am busy writing.

I suppose I could end the blog there, but I will go a bit deeper. My introduction chapter is in its first draft, and I will start editing it in the next week or so. My first main chapter was published earlier this year so is thankfully finished (Hedgepeth et al., 2022). This was my work modeling the emplacement of HCN into a freezing melt lens on Titan. HCN acted as placeholder for the larger population of organics we expect to find on Titan. However, more work is needed to constrain this complex process.

My 2nd main chapter is not submitted but is largely finished. I need to edit comments from my coauthor. However, the paper is probably far enough along to be dissertation material, so it is my lowest priority at the moment. This chapter is studying the degradation of craters on Pluto. It does not revolutionize our understanding of Pluto, but it does provide unique context of the state of the various geologic groups across its surface. I was nervous going into this one. I love Pluto, but I don’t have the kind of background with it as I do with Titan. The reference list ended up being extremely long as I was excessively making sure I understood what I was talking about, and our coauthor seemed to like it. That bodes well. I’m excited to submit it soon enough and officially be a part of the Pluto community.

My third and final main chapter is actively being written. I don’t expect it to be as intensive as the other two papers partly because it is a continuation of the paper published earlier this year. Nevertheless, I am hoping to get the majority of it written this week. I say the majority because there is still a bit of research left to do. I’ve modeled glycine like I did HCN, but I now want to consider what the distribution might look like if HCN is being removed (i.e., a mass sink) or glycine is being added (a mass source). This is still limited as we are treating them as independent mixtures when in reality the properties of the mixture will be modified by the presence of each molecule. We’re considering it by estimating the mass sink or loss as an exponential decay (you can find my abstract from AbSciCon). The current issue is we need to export the mass removed from HCN into the glycine model through time. This is requiring a moderate change to the 2D model we use which is why I am focusing on writing up the rest of the paper, including the results I currently have.

That then leaves a discussion and conclusion chapter which will be far less intensive but not exactly easy. The current plan is to finalize the first draft of the hydrolysis paper (mention in the last draft) the week of 6/8 (this week). The next modeling work should be ready to go by the end of this week. While I run those models, I will spend next week revising the intro chapter, with the last two weeks of June to write the Discussion and Conclusion. Hopefully, Catherine will be able to get me feedback on the revised introduction and hydrolysis 1st draft by that time, giving me a couple weeks to make final revisions on those before submission. I don’t expect the discussion and conclusion to require extensive edits.

Big picture, things are getting down to the wire. I’ve laid out the plan, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. There is still a lot of writing to do. To quote Meryl Streep, I have doubts, but I’ve doubted myself since childhood. That hasn’t stopped me before, and it won’t stop me now.

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