Monday, October 17, 2011

Learn all the things!

So this week, I'm at one of the giant meetings in my field, which happens to be in Ohio this year. As a computationalist, I'm rather out of place in the professional society environment, which is full of practical things. On the other hand, I like attending talks more, because more of it is new to me. It also really makes me wish I had the time/ resources to learn more characterization techniques.

I've also been contemplating recently what kind if post-doc I will want to do in the very distant future, when I maybe manage to graduate... While I like my research, what really excites me is teaching. I'm currently hoping to do some experimental work, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. My advisor isn't terribly helpful at this point, partly because he's been largely in hiding since my preliminary exam.

The experimental technique I really want to learn is NMR, which is probably the most directly useful for comparison to my particular simulations. There's not a good spectroscopy course at GiantU, but another nearby school supposedly has a good course I could audit. Assuming I ever had time...


  1. You could do experiment for your postdoc. Probably not with every advisor, but there are those who will let you pick up new skills. My former PhD student wanted to get his hands dirty in the lab and is now a postdoc at the same university with one of my experimental collaborators in MSE.

  2. Early on I was thinking that working closer with experiments would be fun. There is someone I thought about doing a postdoc with who has an experimental component to his research (in his own group). But it ended up that with my limited time I just wanted to focus on what I know best and related theoretical/simulation methods that I can take with me without having to set up an experimental laboratory.

    The fact that you went to that meeting tells me you are further from my field than I thought from a couple of your older posts I saw. But, we should chat sometime especially when you are considering where to go next. Sometimes you can gain a lot of perspective from people who aren't exactly in your subfield.

  3. My advisor is on several committees, and this is part of their annual meeting, so he insists that we submit abstracts even when there's no logical sessions. It wasn't a meeting my work belonged at, though it's a lovely chance to meet with people from my undergraduate institution.

  4. It should be possible to hop from Computation Mat Sci to Experiment. A friend of mine is a postdoc who did Comp for her Ph.D. and she is now doing SEM and dynamics experiments as well as some computation for her PD. I stayed in Comp, but now that I am a PI I have made some strategic hires to build an experimental arm to my research group-- I hate writing proposals that are 100% theory, so including some "real world" data is something I deem a necessity.

    One of the difficulties you will have trying to switch for your PD is that PI's looking to hire will *prefer* someone who is well tuned to the project, rather than looking to re-educate in terms of procedure, setup, and dealing with finicky equipment. So if you can get some experience while you are still a student, that would be the very best of routes.

    The friend of mine mentioned above had an advantage in that she did her PD in the same institution in which she did her Ph.D.