Maggie Chan, PhD, University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences

Throughout graduate school, progress seemed to happen at a glacial pace. Take my first chapter as an example. It took over a year of preparation to collect data (e.g., finalizing the sampling protocol, deciding where to sample, background research), 3 months (over the span of two years) of field work, 3 months to enter, process, and analyze the data, 4 months to write the manuscript, and 2 months going through revisions with the journal. Then. It’s published.

But for over two years, it was an Unfinished Thing, constantly on my mind. When I was playing with my nephews, I was thinking about it. When I was skiing with my dog, I was thinking about it. Everyone told me it was simply part of being in graduate school. The worst part was when I finally felt like Thing 1 was under control, there emerged 2 and 3.

The persistent feeling of never-ending projects in graduate school led me to spend my free time on activities I could finish in a reasonable time frame. I wanted to eat / feel / see the result of the time I was putting into my activities.


Graduate school years 1 – 2


Full disclosure, I’ve only made two things. But I truly loved making them. I was doing field work in a small community for a few weeks and I was told that there was a weekly get-together for women who wanted to bead together. After inquiring that it was indeed open to anyone and that they take newbies, off I went. Now, let me just say that these women were amazing beaders and they were very generous with their help. They started me off with a flower pattern. Later, I wanted to be more creative, so I decided that for my friend’s defense, I would bead her study organism.

Maggie Pic 1My first and last beaded sockeye salmon. I should have picked something easier. Photo courtesy of Natura Richardson.


Graduate school years 3 – 4


My dog has helped me immensely through graduate school. I don’t have anything to add that other folks on this blog haven’t already said about their dogs. They are amazing. The best part and worst part is that dogs force you to take a break from your work. You might not take yourself for a walk, but you will certainly take your dog for one.

Maggie_Pic 2-2A typical dog walk on a sunny day.


I don’t know what is better than seeing your vegetables grow throughout the summer and then getting to share the fruits of your labor with your loved ones.

Maggie_Pic 3-1 Our first year of gardening, we grew 50 pounds of potatoes.


Graduate school years 5 – 6


I was gifted a DSLR camera a few years ago and I never learned how to use it properly, so finally I asked a photographer friend to teach me. Many lessons and repeat explanations later, I now mostly use it to take pictures of Lucy and the captivating scenery in Alaska.

Maggie_Pic 4 Lucy in the winter.

Maggie_Pic 5-1The ferry coming to the Auke Bay ferry terminal in on a calm, sunny day.



My New Year’s resolution in 2016 was to run a half marathon. It didn’t happen. I took the liberty to roll that New Year’s resolution over to 2017. I’m proud to say that I ran my first half marathon on July 29th, 2017 (with three other graduate students!). The half marathon was fun, but even more fun was the several months of training before that. Thank you to our human and dog running partners and the wild spaces we have the privilege to run in. Next up, improving my swimming so I can complete a triathlon in 2019!

Maggie_Pic 6Before (top) and after (bottom) picture of our half marathon accomplishment. Top picture from left to right is Doug, Elizabeth, myself, and Valentina. Photo courtesy of Valentina Melica.

Maggie_Pic 7 On a run in Juneau, Alaska. You can see Herbert glacier in the background. From left to right is Lucy (the dog), myself, Valentina, and Elizabeth.

I defended my PhD dissertation three weeks ago. Most of the pictures in my presentation were ones I’d taken and I even got a few compliments (on the pictures)! Thank you photography hobby.

Maggie_Pic 8 Lucy on a typical winter dog walk. Hope this encourages you to embrace your activities with passion and delight. Lucy certainly does.

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