Friday, February 24, 2012

Learning from (Negative) Examples

My advisor is a brilliant scientist, but he's not such a brilliant manager. So I'm trying to figure out what I can learn *not* to do from his example, in addition to all the things I'm learning to do as a graduate student.  Here are some of my initial thoughts:

1) Don't take more than 6 months to give any feedback on a paper. Students would rather get a paper with angry red ink demanding we re-write entire sections than wait while you polish the language.

2) Don't assume students know what they're supposed to be working on if you don't tell them directly. Corollary: don't assume students know about deadline just because they happened at the same time last year. A year ago is a much longer time to a graduate student than you, and we don't get emails reminding us of upcoming grant reviews unless *you* send them.

3) Announce when positive things happen. Land a grant? Announce it! A paper got accepted, even if the student graduated? Announce it! A big celebration isn't needed, but let us know.

4) When disasters happen, make time to meet with the affected students, or else they get really jittery.

5) If you're going to be super busy or traveling, let students know so they don't spend all day trying to hunt you down when you're out of town. We shouldn't be asking undergrads for copies of their syllabi to know when you have scheduled absences.

6) Never, ever submit conference abstracts with a student as a co-author (i.e, the person expected to generate the data) unless a)the data already exists or b) you warn the student that they need to produce this data *at the time of abstract submission* (not 4 weeks before the presentation...)

What have you learned by bad example?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rough Week

Not much I'm willing to blog about right now. Pipe failure destroyed over 100K of equipment in our lab, I realized I'd done something fundamentally wrong at the beginning of a set of simulation and need to redo them, and been having sinus troubles. I'm very lucky as a simulationist, nothing affecting me directly was destroyed, but it's rough on morale all around. Here's hoping insurance covers it and they're up and running again quickly.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Year Later

Happy blogiversary to me! So what has changed from my first post?

-I got married
-My advisor finally read my first manuscript, two years after I sent it to him
-I passed my prelim!
-I joined the team over at EngineerBlogs!

My three most popular posts were An Engineer's Guide to Low Stress Wedding Planning, Why I'm Changing My Name and Speculative Abstracts and Golden Children.

My daily routine is very different now, with no classes to take or teach for the first time since I was 5. It makes it feel like summer, though the weather isn't trying very hard to disabuse me of that notion. I'm still haven't adapted to an existence without multiple looming deadlines at all times. My nearest major deadline is May. I know I'm supposed to enjoy this rare period in my life, but I'm much happier working with deadlines: they help me prioritize.

My major goals for the next year are to get the paper out the door, and get the next 2-3 manuscripts on my advisor's reading list. I want to rewrite my codes so that I can run them on the HPC cluster instead of my desktop. I've got a bunch of other project specific goals, but mostly, I want to make it through the next year with my sanity relatively intact.