University of Pittsburgh

Day in the Life of a Pitt Graduate Student

Kristin Butela

Kristin Butela

5:55 a.m. - Finish all necessary experiments to complete PhD dissertation three years early, with groundbreaking scientific results.

6 a.m.- Alarm rings; realize successful thesis completion was only a dream. Get ready for work. Convince cats they can’t come to the lab today.

7:45 a.m.- Arrive at the Life Sciences Annex in the Clapp, Langley, and Crawford halls complex—home of caffeine-laden scientists. Begin ruthless experimentation and brew of copious amounts of coffee.

Coffee & Science

10:15 a.m.- Coffee and science: A match made in the heavens.


1 p.m. - Obtain cheap and delicious Indian food from the trucks on Bigelow Boulevard. Purchase the “large” and realize I now have surplus lunch for at least two days.

3 p.m.- Even scientists get the “3 PM slump.” Round up some colleagues and head to Starbucks.


6:30 p.m.- Wrap up experiments for the day and prep for tomorrow. Decide to go shopping for funky attire and accessories at Avalon in Squirrel Hill. I didn’t spend more than $20 to be this fashion-forward!

Photo of travel.

7:30 p.m. - Head to the gym to work off some of that Indian food. Successfully ignore Coldstone Creamery and the cupcake store near the gym (even though they are really really good).

9 p.m.- Arrive home, tend to cats. Catch up on the day’s news and recent tantalizing science articles.

11 p.m.- Sweet dreams of successful thesis defense...

What Makes Pittsburgh Distinctive?

  1. The awesome view of the city at night, as viewed from any of the major highways.
  2. You can live in a quiet country setting (quite cheaply, I might add) and still be within 20 minutes of the city.
  3. I’ve lived here all of my life, and I still haven’t done everything there is to do!