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TakeruK

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TakeruK last won the day on May 18

TakeruK had the most liked content!

About TakeruK

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    Cup o' Joe

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    Male
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    Western Canada
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    Planetary Sciences

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  1. First, just want to say that it's completely okay to be passionate about history/your field (in fact, it is a very good thing that you are!) and that it is okay to include this in your SOP. The main reason it's a no-no is that just stating that you're passionate about X doesn't get you very far and it wastes valuable space. When students ask me similar questions about the field I'm in, I advise them to write about it from an academic perspective. So, for "why study exoplanets?", I would tell students to write the scientific motivation for their research area. For example, I am interested in studying giant planets around other star systems because these systems allow us to put our own solar system in perspective with other planetary systems in our Galaxy. We can learn whether our configuration of planets is particularly unique. In addition, planet formation is an inherent chaotic and random process, and thus requires study of a large number of planetary systems around many different types of stars to observe all the possible pathways to planet formation. In my opinion, framing your motivation in an academic sense will help your SOP sound more mature and it shows that you've done your homework to know the big questions in your field. This in itself conveys passion for the field. Passion is one of those "show, don't tell" things. As for statements like "I've always loved X since I was a kid", that fact in itself doesn't help you succeed in grad school. Usually people write that as a way to demonstrating passion for their field, which is okay. But I believe the example I showed above is a much more compelling way of demonstrating passion (as well as knowledge) to an admissions committee.
  2. TakeruK

    Methods of Moving Items Cross-Country

    Might be worth checking the prices but if Greyhound + insurance is cheaper than UPS, then for replaceable things (e.g. most books and clothes, except the ones with sentimental value) then I'd personally just take the risk and use the insurance money to replace damaged/lost items. I don't think these methods are *that* risky (i.e. still more likely to arrive safe than not). But a very low risk factor would still be too risky for irreplaceable sentimental things, in my opinion. But there's still some risk and I'd be fine with just buying insurance on the replaceable things. Hope that clarifies what I meant.
  3. Usually, when schools say this, they are writing the instruction for "conventional" students that are full time, 30 units per year for 4 years. So the best answer for anyone not in this situation is to contact the school and ask what they want. If this is not possible for some reason, then I think you should try to report the GPA that is closest in spirit of "last two years" as defined above and let the school know what you did. For example, if you were attending at 60% time instead of full time then you probably want to report the most recent 60 units. If your school offers summer courses that are the same as the fall/winter versions and you took them in the summer due to your schedule, then I would include them. But some places don't offer regular courses in the summer, only fluff electives, so if including summer courses means including many more electives than the typical/convention situation above, you may want to reconsider including them. Also, if you were almost full-time but not quite, you might just report the last 2 years anyways. Especially if dipping past two years means including lower level courses and/or electives from another major etc. So all of this is really dependent on your course history. Again, ask the school if in doubt, otherwise try to apply the "spirit" of the request to your GPA calculation.
  4. TakeruK

    Methods of Moving Items Cross-Country

    Just don't ship anything you really care about via these methods (e.g. sentimental things). I've heard many horror stories of students getting their boxes squashed, water damage etc. If you're just shipping textbooks etc. then I think it's worth getting insurance and taking the risk of damage, but I would not ship any books of sentimental value etc. this way. Another possibly economical way is to take some items as checked luggage with you if you are flying to your destination. The first checked bag is usually $25 then the second is $35 and additional ones are $75 ish? The weight limit is 50 lbs, so the cost ratio is similar to Amtrak but it's much more reliable and you can take things of personal value with you directly and/or have it right away. For example, you might want to take things you need immediately with you in this manner.
  5. TakeruK

    Furniture/Items that should be bought new

    It all depends on your own comfort level. I would almost definitely say all bedding should be new: mattress, pillows, sheets, etc. The only exception is if you know the person you are buying them from very well and you trust their hygiene and bedbugs status. As a fun aside, if you are bringing a used mattress into Canada, it must either have been in your possession from the original purchase or you must present a certificate that you have had the mattress fumigated for bedbugs in order to import it into Canada. For things like a couch, I personally would not buy a used couch. The "ick" factor is too high for me there. I don't mind communal couches in study lounges, offices etc. but in the comfort of my own home, I'd like to have a new clean couch. For me, almost everything else is okay used. I think pots and pans are okay to buy used if they are still in good quality. A dishwasher or a good hand washing takes care of most things. These items are made to be cleaned throughly! Small appliances are also generally okay. My only word of caution is with microwaves. Microwaves are relatively cheap (you can get them as cheap as $30) and a lot of people don't take good care of their microwave and allow a ton of gross crust to build up on the walls. So, although I would be fine with a clean used microwave or if I was able to clean a used microwave, since they are much cheaper than other appliances, it's worth the cost to just buy a new one lol. Oh I think I would probably buy a new coffee maker too since it's hard to clean (you can't really see if the previous owner cleaned it well). Wasn't on my list at first since we didn't own one before. Buying furniture from departing grad students is a great idea. We were happy to sell a ton of our old stuff to new students. We generally sold them for 1/3 of the purchase price (most items have had 3-5 years of use). I think one of the best used furniture items to get is a dining table set. They can be quite pricey ($200 ish for a basic one) because chairs are weirdly expensive for some reason. However, they are also a huge pain in the butt to move (we've sold our table every time we moved). People were happy to buy a decent dining set for $50 and we were happy to get that $50 and avoid the hassle of moving it
  6. I think you are being too down on yourself! You are interesting and your work is interesting! I am also a fairly new postdoc (this is my 11th month). It's easy to think that what we are doing isn't interesting, but at conferences, people are here to learn about everyone else's work. I find it helpful to just pretend the other person is interested in what I have to say in order to give myself the confidence I need to engage (I'm not a very extroverted person so if I start doubting the other person's interest, I would end up saying nothing). When I talk to a new postdoc, I want to know about their previous work too. It's okay and safe to talk about your most recent paper from your PhD. In addition, I find that many people (including myself) enjoy talking to new postdocs to hear about what they are doing next or what ideas they have in mind. I think new postdocs are in a special place in our career where we don't have the constraints of being a student nor the service/teaching load of a faculty member and therefore are able to spend more time on research than anyone else in academia. It's also super duper scary because I never know if I am doing enough work, but it's super exciting to be able to just chat about new ideas and start a whole bunch of new projects to see what sticks. One note about chatting about new ideas is whether you are worried someone will scoop you though. So if you think you have a really good idea then you might want to be careful who you talk to or what details you say about it. For almost all of my ideas, I think there's a way to say it so that I can convey why it's important and why it's interesting without providing enough detail that someone can just go ahead and do the work without me. But I am also more trusting and optimistic about others---I am usually at conferences telling people about my new ideas because I am looking for collaborators and people who would work with me, so I need to tell people about the ideas to get people on board. This does put me at risk of someone scooping me but I feel like I have enough new ideas that if it happens, I'll just move onto someone else and know who not to work with. No one can really answer this question unless we knew your department dynamics and your department head very well. But in general, yes, I think it could reflect poorly on you if you didn't attend the meeting, especially if everyone else attended. I think it would be okay to attend some but not all of the sessions, but you should certainly be there. It might be an extra good idea to ensure you say hi / greet your dept head and/or other senior profs in your department at some point during the week (e.g. make a point to find them during a coffee break or reception).
  7. As everyone said, definitely attend. The advantage of a conference in your home town is that you can selectively attend. I understand the desire to stay in the lab and work on getting your papers out but conferences provide a lot of other opportunities as well. During my last year of PhD, a big conference was in my hometown. It was right during all of the postdoc fellowship applications. I attended even though it meant the time preparing a presentation and attending took away from applications. However, I did many of the things people suggested here: - Selectively chose which days to attend (I think I was there for 2/3rds of the meeting. I found that it was best to plan your schedule on half-day chunks. So, some days I stayed the full day, while others I left at lunchtime (after a lunch to meet with people) or arrived right at lunchtime to meet with people and then attend talks. - Decided what I wanted to get out of the meeting ahead of time. For many people, I emailed them ahead of time to arrange a coffee or lunch time to chat. For others, I attended the opening reception with the goal of finding them and introducing myself and asking for a time to chat later in the week. - In my field, you apply to the big national fellowships asking the funding agency to fund a project for you to work on with a host institution and/or mentor. So, many of the meetings in the above point were with potential fellowship mentors. I asked to talk to them in order to discuss what we could work on together. I also used this opportunity to let them know that I am very interested in working with them and/or their department, which usually leads to them telling me about any other opportunities that would be coming up. - I also arranged lots of time to meet up with friends that I only ever see at conferences. They are both my own professional network as well as my support group. So I always take time at conferences to build on these professional and personal relationships.
  8. TakeruK

    my name on a paper i didn't write??

    I agree with everything fuzzy said. I've even turned down authorship for papers where I did actually contributed but feel like my contribution was so distant from the final result that I didn't feel right being part of the paper. In essence, I had access to a fancy machine and pressed a button at the right time to get a bunch of numbers that I forwarded on to the person requesting said numbers. The other team did all of the work analysing the numbers and came up with an interesting result and invited me to be a coauthor. After talking with my advisor, I decided to turn it down. This experience did help me determine where I would draw the line at accepting coauthorship. I decided from that point on that if I only collected data for someone using a general set of skills then I would pass on coauthorship. I would only join a paper if I took the data and did the analysis of that dataset (not necessarily the entire dataset for the paper though) or if the data-taking required a very specific set of skills (for awhile, after our team commissioned a new fancy machine, there were only a small handful of us that knew how to make optimal use of it so while we trained more people on how to use it, if we took data for people, we were included on their papers). I also think that for now, it would be a good idea to keep the paper on your CV and then remove it later when you have plenty of middle-author papers. To me, this is just like whether you want to include stuff from undergrad or every poster/conference presentation. initially, it makes sense to do so because it's helpful to have it on your CV and at this early stage, people expect junior students to have things like this on their CVs. But as you gain more items to add to your CV, you can start removing things less connected to you, like this paper.
  9. How long do you have for your presentation? In my field, at most large general conferences, you get 5-7 minutes to talk. At smaller more focused conferences, you get 15-20 minutes for a contributed talk and 30-45 mins for an invited review talk. So, in my field, you only take the "my topic 101" approach if you have one of these long invited talks. To make sure we're on the same page, when I say "my topic 101" approach, I mean a talk where the majority of the time is dedicated to what others have worked on, so that it's more like a literature review. So, although there may well be differences due to different fields, unless you have an invited review talk, I would encourage you to focus your talk on what you did. Definitely include important background material, but don't treat it as a literature review. Instead, be very selective and think about the background as the minimum necessary things the audience needs to know in order to first understand why the question you're studying is important/relevant/interesting and then secondly to understand why your work/result is an important step towards answering that question. I've seen far too many talks scheduled for short lengths (less than 20 minutes) that try to be "fair" or "comprehensive" in their reviews and don't spend that much time talking about their own work. For a 5 minute talk in my field, my advice to students is to just pick ONE thing out of the many things they did that they want to highlight. Figure out the minimum background necessary to make this one thing interesting and present that. For a 15-20 min talk, it's enough to present the main results and conclusions of one paper or the over-arching themes of a series of papers, so you might have 3 ideas you want the audience to leave with. But in almost all cases, don't feel that you need to explain everything or that you should be using your time slot as a way to educate people about your field. Your time slot is your chance to advertise your work. Educational talks are usually those long invited review talks given by those with long established research histories that don't need advertising so they can spend 40 minutes talking about everyone else's work instead of their own.
  10. Agree with fuzzy: if there's someone you would like to have as your dissertation advisor, it makes sense to request them now and see if they are available. Also, it's often beneficial for students to have multiple points of contacts within the faculty. Although I had a different "first year advisor" for courses and such, I always talked about courses each quarter with my research advisor too.
  11. TakeruK

    Marie Curie Individual Fellowship?

    I thought for the EU fellowship, anyone is eligible regardless of citizenship as long you are hosted by an EU organization (e.g. https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/actions/individual-fellowships_en). For a direct answer, I found this FAQ page: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/support/faqs/faq-890.html I know of at least one American who was an EU Marie Curie fellow. I also know of others non-EU and non-US people that are Marie Curie fellows working in the EU. I think the fellowship where you are working outside of the EU may have more restrictions such as the list of countries Warelin mentioned.
  12. Don't do this. If I was reading a candidate's diversity statement and read what you described, it would seem that you are being dismissive of the real struggles people from under-represented backgrounds actually face. At best, you would seem naive and uninformed, and at worst, it would appear that you are co-opting a space that is not meant for you. To me, this would be like showing up to a campus support group for people struggling with X and telling everyone about how great you are instead of sharing relevant experiences. And if the reader doesn't actually care about diversity in their student population, then it is unlikely that being quirky here will help you anyhow. They might not even read that essay. --- Now hopefully something more useful/helpful. Have you done any work towards increasing diversity in your undergraduate student groups or overall population? Generally, an undergraduate may not have much influence on the admissions process at their school, but there are smaller scale things that might be relevant. For example, if you were part of the leadership team of a student organization, did you do work towards ensuring your organization reflects the population you were representing/advocating/supporting etc.? Did you actively seek diversity in recruiting new members and/or new directors? Just an example. Someone who is serious about increasing the diversity of their student body will value these attributes because it is not very effective to simply increase diversity for the sake of being able to say there are X people from underrepresented groups. It is important to cultivate a culture that values diversity and build support infrastructure that allows everyone to thrive, not just be present. So, people from majority/overrepresented populations in their fields can be very valuable in terms of diversity if they will be good allies and advocates.
  13. TakeruK

    Useful books to read before starting PhD?

    You can also ask your advisor for recommendations on books when you start. I know that a few profs stock these books and are happy to lend them to their students!
  14. TakeruK

    Typos/errors in published pieces?

    This part is very broadly applicable to academia too for other things that are time/effort expensive but bring you little gain (e.g. those requesting extra analysis that won't reveal anything insightful). Just replace: lawyers --> referees, bureaucrats --> coauthors, and "fired as clients" ---> "consider carefully if they will add value before inviting them as coauthors again".
  15. TakeruK

    Note taking during advisor meetings

    As a grad student, I almost always showed up to my advisor meetings with a notebook open and a pen. Ahead of each meeting, I make notes (like 2 or 3 words) for each item I wanted to bring up. I quickly jot down their responses after each one. To help ensure I keep my notes short, I write each item on one line only, so I am fairly limited in what I am able to write, which allows me to spend most of my time in conversation instead of looking at my notebook. Most of my items are seeking approval/clarification that can be easily written in one line, or I just jot down a few words for me to write out a fuller explanation for myself later. I leave the rest of the notebook page blank in case something more complicated comes up that requires more notes. Sometimes my advisor and I derive something together and that takes space. Or I just use this space later to summarize the meeting after I return to my desk. Each advisor's style is different so you'll have to find what works best for you and them. For me, I took the lead in most of the one-on-one meetings, although my advisor would also ask for updates or questions on specific things if I forgot to include it in my list. In addition, I felt it was normal and expected to be taking notes during the meetings, especially when we were starting a new project and especially when I was a new student. These meetings are basically laying out the instructions for my work in the coming weeks so it makes sense to have a good grasp on them. So, in the beginning, when my advisor led the meetings more, they always paused and waited for me to finish writing notes. Later, when I led the meetings, I might ask to pause the conversation for 30 seconds to ensure I get a citation written down correctly for later review (or to check spelling etc.). Overall, it felt pretty natural to me, to have a discussion on a topic, take a pause to jot down some notes, and then when I look back up, we continue the conversation. (as I wrote above, pauses were short since I only jotted down key words). If we ended up working out something on the board, I can just snap a photo later. So far, I apply the same strategy when advising undergrads working with me and it seems to work too. I think my advisor appreciated the fact that I had notes prepared ahead of the meeting and that I took notes on what we said to ensure I did it right and to avoid asking the same thing over and over. I know I definitely think it's a good thing when my students show up with notes / notebooks and I am glad when they take notes during our meetings. Again though, so much of this is dependent on your personalities and the type of advising relationship you have.
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