Yesterday at roughly 1:00pm I officially became a Ph.D. candidate!!! To become a Ph.d. candidate in my program you must complete a list of academic requirements, pass the first year written exam on everything population biology (The Core), and finally write and defend a dissertation proposal (The Qualifying Exam, a.k.a. Orals). This last step is probably one of the most stressful hurdles a student in my program must overcome–but also the most rewarding. I received a lot of valuable feedback from my committee members (Professors Brian Moore, Ryosuke Motani, Sharon Strauss, Michael Turelli, and Philip Ward) and know that my research will be stronger for it.