Saturday, March 30, 2013

happy Easter Sunday...

... to all of you. Have nice day, if you are celebrating or not. And if you did do some fasting during the pre-Easter time: well done! It's always interesting to see how easy or hard it is to set some every-day habits aside for a while. I didn't eat sweets for the last 40 days, which was surprisingly not too bad. But by now I'm really looking forward to a nice piece of delicious chocolate cake!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


My PhD student came by my office to talk about his work. We didn't have an appointment, but I'm generally fine with it, when they have something important to discuss. So he came in and started talking right away, even though he was still chewing on his sandwich. And he didn't stop eating after he had finished the first bit, but worked himself through his sandwich and his thoughts simultaneously munching and talking. It was so unusual to me, that I watched him amused for quite a while, but finally I told him, that I think it's a bit rude to talk to me while he's eating. But it seemed that his whole brain was occupied already with the munching and talking activity so much, that my complaint did not reach any significant parts of it. He just nodded, made some "ah OK, I understand!" sound and continued eating and talking until he had finished his food and what he had on his mind!

Friday, March 15, 2013

journal club

In our institute we have a bunch of researchers working on similar stuff as I do. It took me over a year to figure that out because there is not much collaboration going on and we don't have larger research funding in this field that would force people to work together. A colleague came up with the idea of a journal club, where we could meet on a regular basis and discuss a recent paper of significant importance. We agreed that this would be great and might even lead to some internal collaborations. But it'll be difficult to get esp. all the senior people together for this who might "just" send their students, if at all. But finally, we haven't done anything to give this idea a try.
This will change now! I'm very motivated to give the whole thing a try and by now I'm not a total newbie anymore, so I think I should show some initiative. So far there is just the idea to meet and discuss a paper that hopefully everybody has read beforehand, presented by a different person each time.
Are there any actions to spice this concept a bit up (maybe except pizza and beer), to make it more interesting and valuable for both the senior staff and the grad students? And how often should such a meeting be scheduled? Any experiences with journal clubs in the web space?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

striking a chord with me

A while ago I've been on a conference and really rare thing happened. I sat in a talk of a young PhD student from a different university and his work and results just struck a chord with me. I talked to him later on and got really excited about doing some experiments complementing his work, because I think it'll help answer one of the big questions in my field. As I said, this is a really rare experience for me. Usually I go to conferences and there are interesting talks, yes, and I take notes, yes, and sometimes I ask some questions. But it does not happen very often that other people's work inspire me so much, that I'd love to go to the lab right away and set up some experiments.
This seems to be similar for a lot of my colleagues. Many of them just sit in the talks during the first day and meet with their usual crows of collaborators during the rest of the event. This is important to catch up on common work and plan the next papers face-to-face. But what do we then need all the talks for? Why is the inspiring-rate so low? Or am I just really bad in seeing all the great stuff my colleagues are doing and how it relates to my work?
Is anybody here who usually gets a lot out of conference talks? I'd like to learn the tricks!