These past few days, I have been re-reading a paper that stimulated me a lot during my PhD. And I found myself wanting to dig in a little bit deeper into the mechanisms of one particular result. Since this paper was published in the 1990s, I never even attempted to look for the code, and started re-writing my own implementation. It made me realize a few things along the way.
Hey, before we start. I know. About grad school. I know it can make you miserable; this is when my first symptoms of GAD showed up. I had no adequate definition of work-life balance. I know there are a number of complex, related, systemic issues that can make grad school and the next years difficult. And then, there’s PhD Comics, and I don’t think it helps.
An invited talk at a symposium or special session is an important milestone in a career. It shows that your work is recognized, to the point where others seek you out to talk about it. And when looking at the lineup, there is often a lack of early career guests. There are a series of steps organizers can follow, to make sure early career scientists are represented, and can be heard. I will walk you through them in a lot of details.
It’s fall term. Do you know what this means? It means I’ll spend the next 12 weeks teaching Scientific Communication to a bunch of students, and thinking a lot about how to communicate efficiently. The first exercise we’ve done was to find an important figure, and discuss, in four slides and four minutes, how it changed the way we thought about science. It was interesting, because it helped me establish a baseline for the class (before approaching presentations in a more formal way), and also evaluate what each student will have to work on. And like the previous years, I think there are a few things that are easy to do, and would immediately improve presentations. Let’s dig in.
It starts, like all great stories do, with Lavender. When I was a PhD student, one of my projects was to study time-series of bacteria-bacteriophage infection networks in the soil. We had a little plot of soil, about 10 cm by 50 cm, in one of the remote university “green” spaces (Montpellier in the summer is the brownish kind of green). On day 1, we got our five soil samples, and started isolating them in the lab. Then after a week, we thought it was time for another sample. Took a fork and some falcon tubes (we were good at improv science), headed down the stairs. No more soil plot. It had been replaced by the loveliest arrangement of rocks, fresh soil, and lavender plants I had ever seen. No more plot, no more sampling, no more project, no more paper.
A few months ago, I was invited to an event organized by the Mozilla Science Labs, and I gave a short presentation on How to train data-driven ecologists. One of the key points in my presentation was the importance of community over institution, or broadly speaking, how to leverage existing training material that has been developed by the community.
I read, review, edit (and write) a lot of papers describing software for ecological research. So much so that I ended up developing a taste for it, and I thought it may be relevant to share it. This may also be the last blog post until September, so enjoy!