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questions [2018/06/19 20:12]
jthaler [Do you respond to generic emails asking to come to MIT?]
questions [2020/06/15 14:05] (current)
jthaler
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 If you are looking for more advice, I found [[http://​www2.lns.mit.edu/​fisherp/​fisher-files-sequence-ii-summary.pdf|this transcript]] of a podcast by my MIT colleauge [[http://​web.mit.edu/​physics/​people/​faculty/​fisher_peter.html|Peter Fisher]] to be quite enlightening (especially the part about the fish). If you are looking for more advice, I found [[http://​www2.lns.mit.edu/​fisherp/​fisher-files-sequence-ii-summary.pdf|this transcript]] of a podcast by my MIT colleauge [[http://​web.mit.edu/​physics/​people/​faculty/​fisher_peter.html|Peter Fisher]] to be quite enlightening (especially the part about the fish).
 +
 +==== What are some things I should aim to achieve during my PhD? ====
 +
 +There are as many ways to be a successful physicist as there are successful physicists. ​ That said, there are skills that are highly correlated with research success. ​ So if you are motivated by checking off boxes, here are some tasks that most (though not all) graduate students in theoretical physics complete by the end of their PhD.
 +
 +  * Regularly attend research seminars and colloquia
 +  * Read the [[https://​arxiv.org/​|arXiv]] on a semi-regular basis
 +  * Have a favorite textbook on Quantum Field Theory (which may or may not be [[http://​admin.cambridge.org/​academic/​subjects/​physics/​theoretical-physics-and-mathematical-physics/​quantum-field-theory-and-standard-model|this]])
 +  * Become familiar with the Review of Particle Physics from the [[http://​pdg.lbl.gov/​|Particle Data Group]]
 +  * Attend a physics summer school
 +
 +  * Learn to write in [[https://​www.latex-project.org/​|LaTeX]]
 +  * Do the majority of calculations in a paper
 +  * Make the majority of plots in a paper
 +  * Write the majority of text in a paper
 +  * Submit a paper to the [[https://​arxiv.org/​|arXiv]] (bonus points if you are [[https://​arxiv.org/​abs/​0712.1037|top of the list]])
 +  * Submit a paper for peer review in a journal (e.g. [[https://​jhep.sissa.it/​jhep/​|JHEP]] and [[https://​journals.aps.org/​prd/​|PRD]])
 +  * Be a peer reviewer for a journal article (often as a favor to your PhD advisor)
 +  * Write a paper in collaboration with someone other than your PhD advisor
 +
 +  * Learn to prepare slides (any format is fine; I use [[https://​www.apple.com/​keynote/​|Keynote]])
 +  * Give a blackboard presentation of any kind
 +  * Present your research at your home institution
 +  * Present a journal club article in a field different from your own
 +  * Visit another institution and give a seminar
 +  * Give a talk about your research at an international conference or workshop
 +  * Explain your research to non-physicists
 +
 +  * Optional: ​ [[jthaler@jthaler.net|Make suggestions]] for how to improve this list
 +
 +
 +==== How do you come up with your acronyms? ====
 +
 +You mean "​[[http://​abracadabra.mit.edu/​|ABRACADABRA]]"​ (A Broadband or Resonant Approach to Cosmic Axion Detection with an Amplifying B-field Ring Apparatus)? ​ Or "​[[http://​dmtpc.mit.edu/​DarkLight/​|DarkLight]]"​ (Detecting A Resonance Kinematically with Leptons Incident on a Gaseous Hydrogen Target)? ​ Or the infamous "​[[https://​arxiv.org/​abs/​1712.07124|P...B...S...]]"​ (Polynomial... Basis... for... Substructure...,​ see footnote 10), which would likely best the competition at [[https://​www.cfa.harvard.edu/​~gpetitpas/​Links/​Astroacro.html|DOOFAAS]]? ​ I write down a sentence describing the idea, take the first letters of (most) of the words, and watch my collaborators cringe.
 +
 +
 +====== Teaching Questions ======
 +
 +==== Have you ever let your students down? ====
 +
 +During the covid pandemic in Spring 2020, we faced difficult decisions about how to assess student understanding of the material in [[http://​stellar.mit.edu/​S/​course/​8/​sp20/​8.044/​|8.044 (Statistical Mechanics)]]. ​ One student asked whether the final assignment grade could be dropped if their problem set grades were higher. ​ In response, I posted the following message to [[https://​piazza.com/​|Piazza]]:​
 +
 +> We have developed the following [[https://​www.youtube.com/​watch?​v=dQw4w9WgXcQ|official policy]] about whether it might be possible to give up the final assignment grade.
 +
 +At the end of the semester, some students got together to make their opinions known:
 +
 +> W​e have collaborated on the following [[https://​youtu.be/​CcV5M7IMLt0|official evaluation]] ​of 8.044 this semester.
 +
 +I appreciated their candor in telling us just how they'​re feeling and making us understand. ​ Certainly, a learning experience for everyone. ​ Thank goodness we were on [[https://​facultygovernance.mit.edu/​rules-and-regulations#​2-64|emergency pass/no record grading]].
 +
 +====== Personal Questions ======
 +
 +==== What are your preferred pronouns? ====
 +
 +He/him/his.
 +
 +I have debated many times with myself about whether I should put this information in my email signature. ​ "​Jesse"​ is a somewhat gender ambiguous name, and I don't mind (too much) when people add an extra "​i"​ by mistake. ​ It feels a bit uncomfortable to assert my gender at this point in my career when the gender ambiguity in my name (and in my past [[http://​v1.jthaler.net/​photos/​images/​2002.05.C/​dance_rig.jpg|hairstyle]]) was part of my experience growing up.  Also, physics is a rather male-dominated field, and I worry that providing my pronouns would somehow reinforce male-ness as the default for a physics professor, though I also appreciate that my reticence is probably doing so implicitly.
 +
 +In any case, I do like the way that providing pronouns signals an aspiration towards a more diverse and inclusive physics environment. ​ As I often tell my students: there are as many ways to be a successful physicist as there are successful physicists. ​ So while I don't currently give my preferred pronouns, my email signature does have a link to the [[https://​web.mit.edu/​physics/​about/​values.html|MIT Physics Community Values]].  ​
 +
 +
 +
 +
  
 ====== Website Questions ====== ====== Website Questions ======
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 What?  You don't like [[orange links]]? ​ I was semi-inspired by the [[http://​www.sfjazz.org/​|SFJAZZ]] poster hanging in my office, but a certain someone refused to let me use purple. ​ Consider yourself lucky I didn't use the {{::​sfjazz2004.png?​linkonly|2004}} color scheme. What?  You don't like [[orange links]]? ​ I was semi-inspired by the [[http://​www.sfjazz.org/​|SFJAZZ]] poster hanging in my office, but a certain someone refused to let me use purple. ​ Consider yourself lucky I didn't use the {{::​sfjazz2004.png?​linkonly|2004}} color scheme.
 +
 +====== Logic Questions ======
 +
 +==== Is today opposite day? ====
 +
 +Today is and is not opposite day.  [h/t Adrian]
questions.1529439162.txt.gz · Last modified: 2018/06/19 20:12 by jthaler