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About coffeecoffeebuzzbuzz

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    Tropical island
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    Geeky science stuff
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  1. I checked out UNL and the housing scene and this is what I gathered from discussions and mapping out what I think is important in a city (I have cartography geekiness at times)... - Grad students tend to live in the "Near South" region of the city, basically it is the area south of downtown in streets with alphabet letters F- A running North South, and roughly 5-30 West to East. - The Near South area is roughly less than a mile to downtown, mile and a half to campus, and a mile north of grocery stores (food co-op) - Undergrads tend to live north and east of the main campus - Chances are you should avoid anything that reminds you of the dorms (if you want to avoid football crazed drunkiness) - Rent for a studio tends to be 300-400 range, one bedroom is 400-600 (for a large w/office), and two bedroom tends to be 600-800 (depending on if it is an apt vs.house). - A good time to find an apartment is May or June, July is so-so, and by August everything is pretty much picked over
  2. I found out today that canceling my acceptance is simply not an option. The Far Far Away Scientist pretty much backed out of the earlier informal offer. He expressed that he didn't want to burn bridges with the Prof at the University of Middle of Nowhere because they are research associates within a very very small community of scientists. I have to agree, the last thing I want is to start my academic career with a bad reputation (especially with folks who I want to work with in the future). This is hard because I am risking my relationship of the past 11 years to go to grad school, but professionally the University of Middle of Nowhere is still the best choice for me. I just feel really sad.
  3. Ok here is a mini "I'm too dumbstruck to vent properly post..." Last year at this time, after dealing with many rounds of grad school rejection I ask the Noble Prof of Rejection why I hadn't been chosen and if he had any advice, or anyone on earth who he thought would be a better "fit"...He felt bad for me and gave me a list of names of folks he respected and who matched my itty bitty highly specialized academic interest. Via this list I decided to contact the Far Far Away Scientist (ie. different continent) to see if he was accepting students. As it turns out Far Far Away Scientist was doing amazing research, totally on par with my goals, yet was struggling to find a decent position anywhere on earth. He then offered a list of names of folks he respected and recommended, I was blown away by each one and applied to work with seven folks on his list. Months pass, we continue corresponding, exchanging research ideas or random comments. Each email back and forth left me with the "Darn, too bad you're not a prof yet..." sense. In the process of fine tuning where will I go, who will I work with, I have dealt with alot of heart ache, mainly related to wondering if my partner will leave me if I move far away, worrying that I will drop out early if I have to live in a place that I have little to no desire to be in, yada yada....I researched every school within a three state radius of where I live and every person that I wanted to work with is located off in distant place. Finally I accept the fact that to follow my academic goals I need to move to a less than great location. After much heart ache I decide to go with the offer from University of Middle of Nowhere. Now fast forward to today. Within 24 hours of mailing off my signed acceptance form to University of Middle of Nowehere I get a surprise email from Far Far Away Scientist. The good news is that he just got a position....FOR THE SAME UNIVERSITY WHERE I WORK! My corner of the globe! Noooooooo! Why universe? is this some bizarre joke? It is the same sensation as watching the train you were hoping to catch pass you by...
  4. Well hopefully I won't scare the prof off with the sparkly gold envelope that I used...
  5. I thought I would resurrect this thread... Yesterday I mailed off my acceptance letter...scary moment but I did it and I couldn't change things ones I dropped the envelope in the mail. Today I have been utterly fatigued, blah, and rather indifferent. I ended up cleaning my house thoroughly as a distraction. It is sort of like being so overwhelmed with emotion that I am "done" with the decision process that I now feel numb from over saturation. Part of me feels like I should go out and dance, celebrate, etc... but I am more inclined to hide in my fuzzy frumpy comfy clothing and listen to old school dramatic goth music. To add to the "my ass is whooped" feeling this has been one hell of week for me with abnormal intensity of everything (just one week!). This week I was sick (flu or cold); had to work non-stop to get my manuscript submitted by the final proof deadline (FIVE YEARS OF WORK FINISHED!!!!); gave my first oral presentation at an international conference; had to deal with potential freeze in my job (gov shutdown narrowly prevented); had to interact with all of my old co-workers from the job where I was previously laid off from; found out my partner of 11 years won't be joining me when I move to grad school (but might move out a season or two later...); had to make up a weeks worth of missed classes and homework (including teaching myself everything I missed in calc) because I was too sick to go to school; had to balance out everything on my to-do list with surprise visits from folks visit from out of town; and somewhere in between everything I made the choice of where I am going to spend the next five years of my life... so ya... I am feeling a little burned out right now. It gets better right?
  6. Oooh I like the idea of a mariachi band, or maybe one of those multi-person Chinese dragon puppets and fireworks... I can only hope for that kind of response from my grad students far far far away in the future when I am a prof heh heh
  7. After you decided: "yes, this is where I am going to go for the next chapter of my life..." how did you tell the school and the professor? I am curious to hear people's stories - and how the prof responded. I am in the process of making a fancy card to say "yes". It looks a tad flamboyant (think brocade prints...) but it is fun to tap into my arts and crafts side. Basically I wanted to make the Prof feel good about accepting me, and give them a thank you gift in my own odd way. What is the way that you told the POI your decision?
  8. Sorry for this random comment, I saw you posted last year that you were awarded the NSF but did not have acceptances at universities. I am sorta in the same boat (was planning on going to Canada), I was wondering what you found out as you contacted schools in April?

  9. It is worth asking but never assume that a rejection will be reversed. FYI - Both Berkeley and Yale were rigid with their decisions even with a fellowship in hand (mostly due to bureaucracy norm of the department/Grad admission rules rather than the opinion of POI).
  10. FYI - Yes you can defer for up to two years if needed (and absolutely necessary due to factors you cannot control like medical issues, personal emergencies, etc..). Would I recommend turning down acceptances for a year and applying to grad school with a NSF Fellowship? No No No. The deferment process sucks and was one of the most stressful experiences of my life (which compounded other issues that I was dealing with at the same time). Do not risk loosing the fellowship on a whim. Do everything in your power to be accepted the same year as the award is given. Call profs, beg for acceptance if you have to, etc...
  11. I am currently in a nice non-frozen part of the US, but I have multiple grad school interviews in the midwest with travel starting next week... I just looked at the weather and the news reports describing a massive blizzard that i approaching that is likely to be one of the worst in history. Now I have this deep sense of doom (added on top of my interview jitters). I fear that the interviews will be canceled or worse I get stuck somewhere in route between here and there. Anyone else dealing with unexpected change of events?
  12. I have a slightly different perspective on bringing a spouse/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend to an on-campus interview. BTW this is just to offer another way of looking at this scenario, not to say that there is "right" way to do things... I have a long-term partner (10+ years) who is not attending any of my interviews. We talked about it, but I expressed that I didn't think their attendance was appropriate. I view my graduate school decision and interviews as a strictly a business affair. I want to base my decision primarily on research compatibility, style, lab dynamics, professional expectations, and the financial reality of each potential option. I approach each interview as if I have not yet been accepted and with a fair degree of caution about all interactions even in the "casual" context. I also acknowledge that I act differently when I am accompanied by my partner and I want the impression that I give to potential advisors, labmates, etc... to be based on my professional/independent persona. I try to respect that the school inviting me is essentialy viewing me as a 60K a year (tuition, stipend, academic responsibilities) risk or investment, and I view the interview as the foundation for a contract/bond that will determine my future (and potentially lifelong) career path. I do think having my partner see possible schools is very important - just not during the interview weekend. As a compromise I offered to cover the cost of a trip for the two of us to my top school *after* I have acceptance letters in hand, but *before* decisions are made. This allows us the opportunity to be leisurely about our assessment of the town/city and eliminates the social pressure of an interview weekend where every action and interaction is under observation and scrutiny. Yes this approach costs more in the short term, but I regard it as essential in the grand scheme of things. This approach allows me to give the grad interview my full attention, and then to focus completely on my partners needs, rather than confusing or diluting the two experiences.My partner also has full veto rights on any location that would seriously compromise their ability to find a future job or a place that simply does not match their lifestyle. Yes this is a huge decision, and yes I deeply love my partner, but that does not mean asking them to accompany me on grad school interview trips.
  13. I actually made a spreadsheet to keep track of progress/cost... Here is the breakdown of cost to date: Total Cost: $2000 (9 schools this year, 4 last year) Average Cost of Everything per Application: $150 Transcripts - $360 ($43 per set of official transcripts, thankfully some take scanned copies!) Application Fees - $607.25 (roughly $50 per school) GRE - $885 for shitty scores.. (test taken five times + $115 in fees), I groan because my highest score combo was 550V/600Q, barely good enough for anything. Misc... $20 (mailing costs, forms, etc...) LOR gifts $150 (total, roughly $30 per person)... the cost may actually be more. I generally do a combo of things. I make handmade cards both when the applications are submitted and when I receive news of my status, plus I usually give one nice item like an orchid or a bottle of wine once everything is done (decisions made, fellowships awarded, etc...). In some instances this cost also includes shipping...
  14. Hmmm....well here is my score (with hotness factor) Prof. 1 - 100^1 * 53 Prof 2 - 100^0 * 69 - not hot Prof 3 - 100^1 * 158 Prof 4 - 100^1 * 118 Prof 5 - 100^1 * 62 Prof 6 - 100^1 *76 Prof 7 - 100^1 * 103 Prof 8 - 100^0 * 102 - not hot Prof 9 - 100^1 * 23 Well... it still a tight race given how many hot profs are on my list... any other metrics to consider?
  15. Peer Impact Ranking... I created an odd ranking system based on the number of times a "Potential Prof of Interest" was cited by other scientists in peer-reviewed manuscripts. I like this approach over the number of publications system because this ranking includes books and high impact papers that really influenced others within a specialized subject area. I also like to subtract the one paper with the highest citation number (some folks are one hit wonders...). To compare young prof who are up and coming to older established profs I then accounted for the number of years since the person was established in their field of study (with a grad degree). Here is the equation: (Total number of citations - maximum number for a single manuscript) / The number of years since the prof earned a PhD As an easy way to tally the numbers go to Google Scholar, advanced search. Enter the exact name of the prof (specific first initials and last name) in quotation marks in the "Author" section. Next restrict the subject area (eg biology). Also limit the results page to only show "at least summaries". One interesting spin is to also compare citation of "all time" to specific time ranges (like just the number in the past three years). If you really want to geek out you can also look at the amount of variance in the number of citations also. Anyhow this helped me to get a feel for which potential profs were rock stars, and which were so-so (at least in terms of peer impact...)
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