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Everything posted by TakeruK

  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 intere
  2. 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 w
  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 cours
  4. 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
  5. 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" fa
  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 abou
  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 t
  8. 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
  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 differe
  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. 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 re
  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 t
  13. 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. 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. 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 wr
  16. I really like this book: https://www.amazon.ca/Marketing-Scientists-Shine-Tough-Times/dp/1597269948 It has been recommended to me (not me personally, but like our class) by several professors and I saw it on my advisor's shelf too. The author has an interesting history: he's a NASA astrophysicist who decided to also go professional with his country music. He learned all the marketing from his music business and picks out what might apply to academia to put into this book. You don't have to be a fan of country music or an astrophysicist to get useful stuff out of the book though---it's pre
  17. I agree with @rising_star. The most cost-effective would be to sell the furniture and ship boxes of stuff you can't buy. Out of the items you list, if you have a nice mattress, that might really be the only thing worth keeping (since it's tough to sell used mattresses). When we moved a similar distance, we did move our mattress because it was pretty new and we paid a lot for it (still have it 8 years later and totally worth it for how much of a nice rest it provides!). So, we ended up doing one of those pods, which only cost a little bit more than just shipping the stuff (i.e. paying abou
  18. I've read the same studies! I think astronomy and planetary science is slowly moving towards anonymizing applicants as much as possible. In academia though, there are some things that won't easily change but I think we as a community can continue to work to seek creative ways to minimize discrimination. Something specific to my field has been telescope proposals, where women are much less likely to be granted telescope time than men. In recent years, Canadian astronomy has shifted so that the lead investigator is no longer identified on the proposal (a list of names of all investiga
  19. I'd echo what fuzzy said. Students cost more than the cost of their funding---they require time for teaching, mentoring, etc. And you will still pose a financial cost for things like research travel, publication page charges, etc. Having funding would still be a plus though since you will be way cheaper to any department/advisor, leaving them with more money to spend on you in other ways (see above) and potentially means more research freedom since your project may not have to fall specifically within a grant.
  20. As others said, if this is not your first entry, then there is no problem at all. If this is your first entry on this status, you may get some questions about why you did not enter before your program's start date. The border agent may be concerned that you aren't really entering the US for this academic program since your date of entry means you will miss a ton of classes already. In addition, for some visa statuses (J-1 for sure, not sure if it's required for F-1, international student orientation is a mandatory part of your visa status). However, if you have a good reason, it should n
  21. Good advice on finding the person that will best help you. Just a note for the OP that this depends on each department though. At my PhD department, the grad coordinator is the faculty contact for administrative things related to academics (e.g. signing a form for going on leave, adding/dropping classes etc.) However, for things like reimbursement, there is a small office of admin assistants in the department. Each assistant is responsible for a few faculty members so the current students are supposed to go to the admin assistant assigned to their advisor. One of the admin assistants takes cha
  22. If you have no intention of taking this other offer, then just let the interviewer know that you appreciate the offer but you already committed to attending XYZ this fall. No point interviewing when you have no intent of taking the offer.
  23. I agree with what is said above. Sorry that you have to deal with Person A. You probably already know but it might be helpful to hear: Person A's mode of criticism is a bad one. This is not just a matter of "style" or a "bad fit". They are objectively bad at providing feedback. I have worked on several review and evaluation panel now and they give us some training on how to actually provide good feedback to students in particular. And remarks like the one you quoted "Written in haste?..." are explicitly called out as bad feedback. In short, feedback like that is bad because 1) it ma
  24. This is quite normal for undergrad students at my PhD school. We would almost always have undergrads in our grad classes, so I'd imagine many of them racked up a ton of grad level credits. For these students, they took these grad classes as part of their electives so it counts towards their BA/BS degrees. As long as you weren't enrolled in a MA program, no one will think that you pursued an MA and then quit.
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