work

Jan. 14th, 2013 12:05 pm
clevermynnie: (see us waving)
So I found out that a talk I proposed got accepted for the spring meeting of the Materials Research Society in San Francisco, which is pretty great. My fellowship includes a bit of travel money, and at least one grad school friend will be there, plus one of the grad students I work with here is going too. In a weird twist, Ben is going to a conference the week before in the exact same conference center, so we will overlap and have a weekend in the Bay Area together, just like the old days. I haven't been out there in four years, but it will be great to see people and eat at the Cheeseboard.

More generally my work is going alright, though at the moment a lot of my projects are in a 'wait for X' stage, which feels tedious when it all happens at once. I want to DO things, not hassle people to move purchasing or installation or whatever forward on track. Maybe in these situations I should be spending my spare time in the lab futzing around instead of reading papers, because otherwise I just get restless.

I am coming up on one year in this job. It doesn't seem like it's been that long, or that our trip back to Philly in late February will mark a year and a half since we moved away! But on the other hand, I've done a lot in this lab so I suppose it makes sense that it's already been a year. I do feel like I am sorting out what I really want to do in science, and that feels pretty good.
clevermynnie: (Default)
I got an announcement for an R&D scientist job, in Northern Ireland; amongst the long bit at the bottom about being an equal opportunity employer, they mention that they 'specifically welcome applications from the protestant community who are currently underrepresented in this job category'. I've never seen a job ad request applicants from a specific religious community before, and this just below the bit about how they don't discriminate based on religion. Are Protestants really underrepresented in science positions, or generally in Northern Ireland? Is this common in job ads there, or anywhere?

I told Ben and it and he said: 'well, leaky pipeline, you know. Episcopalians drop out every step of the way.' Which, yeah, I kind of resent the appropriation of protections for helping women and minorities into fields where they are underrepresented, by one of the most common religions in those fields! Are they worried about too many Catholics from down south, or foreigners, or what? There must be some worldview in which this makes sense but I'm not quite seeing it.

on being

Nov. 22nd, 2012 12:11 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
At work, it still surprises me to find that I am gaining responsibility, that I can give grad students physics advice or that I have enough expertise to get a bunch of expensive equipment up and running. Or to be greeted as 'Dr. J.' And Ben has actually been asked to be the external examiner on a thesis defense. I guess it still feels a bit weird not to be in school, especially for me since I am still surrounded by students. But even grad students are starting to look surprisingly young to me!

And of course, I don't have today off, but we are having some people over later for a Thanksgiving-y dinner! I already made cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and sourdough rolls, and Ben will go home a bit early to cook more. We actually got more chairs and a table extension for this, and are planning to deep-fry a turkey outside (which I won't eat but am interested to see). Last year the fall holidays were a little depressing because we were so recently arrived and didn't know much of anyone, plus I was unemployed, but it's really nice to feel so much more settled now. And to have so many things (travel, seeing friends, work fun, writing, gaming, running, music) to look forward to in the coming months!

For gratitude, I recommend reading this piece on enjoying everyday moments; I hope everyone is having a good Thanksgiving, or alternately a good Thursday.
clevermynnie: (smile)
I just submitted an abstract for a conference, for the first time since starting my postdoc! With any luck I will be in San Francisco in April giving a talk about my research, though I won't know for sure for a couple of months. It is just GREAT that my fellowship includes conference travel money, let me tell you.

What with this and the recent publication, I'm pretty happy that I already have stuff to show for my postdoc. And, I am working on several projects at the moment that are all pretty interesting, so my work satisfaction is high right now. Yay! Just in time for the season when it's dark 16 hours of the day.
clevermynnie: (Default)
So many things have been happening that it is easier to recount them in bullet form! Highlights include:

*Lovely geek wedding of Dublin people who I wish we saw more of
*Lots of SW:TOR and D&D which is awesome, especially since WoW kept revoking my expansion purchase
*Running recovery and marathon prep for the Dublin Marathon next Monday going well
*Finding new tasty Indian and Spanish restaurants around town
*Stopped eating meat (aside from fish), and am pretty happy about it
*Totally loved the books Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, and Embassytown by China Mieville
*Fun science outreach project at work bearing some fruit

I actually have pictures for the last one; a photo of Ben watching a video I did about my research that's currently up in a science museum, and a photo of me talking about this poster I did in conjunction with a graphic designer who made it beautiful. Science outreach is really fun!

outreach video

outreach poster
clevermynnie: (Default)
So many things have been happening that it is easier to recount them in bullet form! Highlights include:

*Lovely geek wedding of Dublin people who I wish we saw more of
*Lots of SW:TOR and D&D which is awesome, especially since WoW kept revoking my expansion purchase
*Running recovery and marathon prep for the Dublin Marathon next Monday going well
*Finding new tasty Indian and Spanish restaurants around town
*Stopped eating meat (aside from fish), and am pretty happy about it
*Totally loved the books Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, and Embassytown by China Mieville
*Fun science outreach project at work bearing some fruit

I actually have pictures for the last one; a photo of Ben watching a video I did about my research that's currently up in a science museum, and a photo of me talking about this poster I did in conjunction with a graphic designer who made it beautiful. Science outreach is really fun!

outreach video

outreach poster

yay

Jun. 14th, 2012 08:53 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I am no longer sore from the race on Saturday! And I submitted my first paper with my new group yesterday! And now I am at the airport with Ben heading to Budapest for a long weekend!

Life is good.

surprise!

May. 27th, 2012 03:29 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
The end of this week had a huge surprise: remember how I was waitlisted for a fellowship? Well, I had assumed the waitlist was a consolation prize, but no, it was a legitimate waitlist and I was notified on Friday that I got a fellowship!

Obviously, this was a big surprise because I had already resigned myself to NOT getting the fellowship. I was so ecstatic to find out that I was actually funded! What this fellowship means is, I will continue to do my current job with my great group and awesome boss, but my salary will be paid externally for two years. This gives me a lot of job security, which is great because we are enjoying Ireland and would prefer to stay for at least a couple years more, but it's also nice in that I can switch groups and keep the funding if I need to. That seems really unlikely though, given how much I am already enjoying my job.

It's also a nice thing to have on my resume, a funded postdoctoral fellowship! I have never applied for and won this amount of money before (unless you count getting into grad school, I suppose). I've gotten some travel grants and small prizes, but this is a lot cooler!

Ben and I celebrated by going out to lunch at Yamamori, and then having a great relaxing weekend of the type that have been scarce recently. I am really happy to have a more stable position here, and to be able to keep living and working in such a great place for another couple of years.
clevermynnie: (Default)
Oh yeah, while I was on vacation I found out that I didn't get that fellowship I applied for in December. I was really hoping to get it, as it would have been great, and I did get waitlisted in case someone turns down their money. (Yeah, right.) From the feedback I got, I am pretty sure I could get funded if I apply again in the next cycle this December, so probably I'll do that.

I'm really glad that my boss had found other funding for me already, so I still have a job through December at least. And my work is going really well. There was this paper in draft form when I did the fellowship application, which I thought was great work, and what I've done in the last three months has gotten me an authorship spot on the paper which I'm just thrilled about. I think it's great science, I'm excited about what I'm doing and the possible follow-up projects, and I'm just so pleased with this postdoc so far.

So I do wish I'd gotten that fellowship, but I'm relieved that I don't really need it.
clevermynnie: (smile)
I had a bunch of grump-inducing things happen yesterday, and was kind of in a funk yesterday evening and this morning before work. I came in to work, and nothing very unusual happened: I took some electrical measurements which sort of worked, I scheduled some equipment time, I emailed with people in my group about science, my boss dropped in and we talked a bit, I had lunch with Ben, and I got my contract renewal paperwork so that I can update my immigration status. None of these things by themselves was incredible but here it is at the end of the day and I am in a good mood! I am excited about how work is going, and I have some nice things going on outside work.

It is so awesome to have a job that is a source of positive energy in my life. My undergrad research position was that way, but it was so long ago that I had forgotten how it felt. Man this is nice.

ace

Mar. 29th, 2012 04:07 pm
clevermynnie: (i carry your heart)
Yesterday was Ben's thirtieth birthday. I met him when he was nineteen, so it is very strange to think about him turning thirty. But a lot has happened since we met!

He isn't as into his birthday as I am into mine, but we did have a picnic after work, and I gave him tickets to a music festival later this year which looks amazing. I love a lot of things about Ben, but I am so impressed by how hard he works, and how into his field he is. Ben is single-minded about his career in a way that I am decidedly not, so it's a joy to have seen him develop influence and cool ideas and now be at a job which he is really enjoying. He recently went to the Game Developers Conference, and each year they give all the speakers a deck of cards featuring the faces of top-rated speakers from the previous year. Since his talk last year went over well, they asked him for a photo to be in the deck of cards this year. He sent them this photo of him shuffling cards, which I took on a trip to Cape May a few years back. When he got the deck this year, he checked for his card, which looks like this:

ace of hearts


My husband, the ace of hearts.

success!

Mar. 22nd, 2012 11:11 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
My contract is being extended!

I started at the beginning of February with a three month contract, and I still won't know until sometime in April whether I received that postdoctoral fellowship or not. But today my boss told me that he's keen to keep me on and has funding for me through the end of the year, whether that fellowship comes through or not!

I'm really enjoying the project I'm on, and my timing has been great because I got to survey the literature to help out with a grant proposal, and then get trained on all the fabrication equipment to get a few final results for a paper. Now the idea is to get a lot of papers out in the next year before filing a patent, and I will be taking charge of this push. It's very exciting, and I am thrilled to have the financial support to stay here.

Yay!
clevermynnie: (Default)
It's kind of amazing to compare my experience with the first few weeks of this job to the first few weeks of my grad or undergrad research. I have done a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, editing and discussion for the grant proposal my boss just submitted, and started getting trained on a fair bit of equipment I need. But it feels like the lead time I need to understand something is so much shorter than it was before. Postdocs are supposed to hit the ground running, at least that is what you hear, and the idea made me nervous but now I am seeing that it isn't so hard to do.

Part of it is definitely that while I shifted materials and projects somewhat, I am still in the same area of nanoscience that I was in before. And I did enough broad journal reading in grad school that I had grounding to move in the direction I did, plus the physics of what I am studying now is very related to the physics of what I did in grad school. And it helps in terms of experiments that I have a lot of experience with experimental techniques that I will be using, so that I recognize software and understand principles. It doesn't feel intimidating even though I am still learning new things, making mistakes, trying things out.

I wish I could convey this to my friends who are still in grad school in a way that sounds plausible. You know how sometimes you talk with someone who seems insanely competent and understands everything? There is a path from being a grad student to being that person, and you are probably already on it, making forward progress. Even if it doesn't feel that way (especially then).

official

Jan. 18th, 2012 03:52 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
It's now legal for me to work in Ireland! I filed my hosting agreement with the immigration board today, to change from my non-working spouse visa to a visa that allows me to make money. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I have to pay the immigration board to change my status, but whatever, I can work here now!

work!

Jan. 4th, 2012 06:03 pm
clevermynnie: (smile)
There are still three months left before I find out whether or not I got that postdoctoral fellowship that I applied for, but the professor who sponsored my application wants to hire me on a short-term contract between now and then, to get me trained up and situated! I'm excited to get back into the lab, and to see what it's like working at this pretty cool interdisciplinary nanoscience center. Plus this shows that this professor thinks my chances of getting funding are high, and that it's worth finding other funding for me if the fellowship doesn't pan out. I'll start in 2-3 weeks, when my hosting paperwork goes through (i.e. what I need in order to work in Ireland).

I am really glad that I had some time to recover from the severe burnout that I was feeling in September. After my defense I still had to do a lot of wrangling to get my thesis turned in, and spend a lot of time tracking down a weird charge on my student bill, but now my last official semester is over and I am totally, utterly done with grad school. I have disentangled myself from the last little pieces and now the next career stage is beginning! I hope it goes well!

cello wars

Dec. 7th, 2011 10:22 pm
clevermynnie: (mask)
I submitted that fellowship application. I feel good about it, though it was a lot of work to write up all the pieces. But that meant it was a perfect time for someone to send me this:

clevermynnie: (Default)
I am working on a fellowship application, which is the most thorough that I've ever done. (Probably because once you are a postdoc you are expected to really justify why you should be given money.) I have to write a two-page research plan, a one-page statement of research history, a one-page professional development plan, and rather than submit my CV I had to paste it into all the separate fields that they provide. That was really fun for my publication and presentation history (hint: no it wasn't).

But you know, now that I am thinking how to write the professional development plan, I am realizing that this is a really cool part of this application! I read their prompt, was unsure what to do, and then started googling links like this one and this one. Both links are basically guided ways to think about where you are going with your career, both very short-term and in the next few years, and once you identify some bigger goals you can figure out what you need to get there in terms of acquiring skills, education, experience. I made a list of the things I'm hoping to learn in this project, and a list of my goals in the longer view, and now I can write the actual plan from that.

I'm still annoyed at how long this fellowship application is, but I'm glad that this section was there; it seems really useful for me to do.

defended

Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:50 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
I passed my thesis defense.

I was nervous beforehand, even though I had gone through the talk a few times and felt I had pretty nice slides. I wasn't quite prepared for how many questions I got during the talk; my talk was probably 40 minutes on its own but ended up being an hour due to questions, mostly from committee members. I felt like I answered a lot of questions by starting out, "That's a good question, hmmm," and then saying something that kind of made sense. But a lot of people told me afterward that I came off as answering from a place of deep knowledge as an expert, which is the ideal. The committee also questioned me in private, which was intimidating as the audience was leaving the room, but then the private questioning was very genial and fun. I got asked about Antarctic ice, scintillators, and DARPA, all in the context of my work. And I never really felt nervous while answering questions, which was great.

The committee sent me into the hallway to confer privately, and when they came out and shook my hand to tell me I'd passed, and my assembled friends cheered, it was a pretty great moment. I went out to lunch with people afterward, and spent the rest of the afternoon filling out paperwork, recycling shoes, getting a haircut, and generally feeling awesome.

After my defense ended, I went back into my office to change into a special shirt I have. Some friends of my dad made it for him when he finished his defense, thirty plus years ago, and since we share the same last name and now, the same education level, I am finally able to wear it with pride.

I can't believe that I am really done with graduate school.
clevermynnie: (Default)
The second part of the trip, at Punta Leona, is going great so far. We have had some very nice talks, but mostly we have a lot of free time and I find myself doing enjoyable things and talking to scientists about how to be happy, how to have fulfilling relationships, how to plan a career in a way that's rewarding. I have also done some work, but not as much as I probably should have... I'm procrastinating because I have gotten pretty tired of this step, to be honest. I know I will get through it, but I am enjoying having a break.

On the way here, several of us went on a tour that went to the Poas volcano, the first active volcano I've visited, as well as a coffee-growing area that was very beautiful. Here there are several pools and beaches, so I've been swimming a lot and also lounging in nice areas to read. The food here is great, very delicious and a lot of options, and in the mornings there are capuchin monkeys who come to the breakfast area to steal the sugar from the tables. There are also a lot of iguanas and lizards around, some red macaws that nest in a tree near here, brown pelicans, many butterflies, that kind of thing. I went on a birdwatching hike yesterday, with a guide, and today did some ziplining and snorkeling. The ziplining was pretty fun, though someone brought their 3-year-old who freaked out in the middle when you couldn't get down.

The snorkeling, though, was amazing. I should have realized I would love it; I love to swim and experience natural beauty, and snorkeling is kind of like going for a hike underwater. I saw so many fish: tiny blue fish, tiny yellow fish, larger silver fish with neon spots, flat fish that live on the bottom, and a lot of damselfish of various hues. Several times I encountered a big group of senior sargent damselfish, yellow and blue and striped, and I would just swim around with them and feel this deep contentment. Swim swim swim, me and my fish friends.

After about an hour and a half of snorkeling, I was looking at some fish and heard this deep rumbling. I popped my head out of the water to find the snorkeling guide telling us to get to shore, because the rumbling was thunder from a big storm moving in. We all went in to shore, seeing as we went big bolts of lightning going into the water further out. This particular beach has a snack bar overlooking it, so we went up there and sat under a canopy watching the storm and having flan and mango juice. Yes, sometimes life is very good.
clevermynnie: (mask)
After a long trip here on Wednesday, I eventually made it to my room at the hotel in San Jose. The first four days have been in San Jose, at a nanoscience center, and tomorrow we are going to a beach resort for the next week of talks and activities. All the students have roommates for hotel rooms, and I completely lucked out with my roommate: she is Romanian-American, very nice, and very skilled at organizing activities for our free moments. I went to a great dinner the first evening with her and several other students, at a nearby Spanish restaurant. I had arroz negro, we shared a very good bottle of wine, and we had so much great conversation that my stress from traveling melted away.

To first go through the workshop events, we have had several talks from young faculty, a demonstration of AFM (not so interesting since I did a big AFM project early in graduate school), and a conference call with the NSF who funded everyone to come. There was also a poster session that filled a lot of the breaks between events, and I got to have fun presenting my poster and getting complimented on my work, and also seeing many other posters. Since this is a nanoscience event, there is a cross-section of disciplines, with most people from chemistry and materials engineering. There are only a few other physicists, which means I have been in a conversation about how it's hard to "think in math", and I got to sound smart because I knew about Bose-Einstein condensates.

Overall I am feeling more and more comfortable in this field, recognizing paradigms for research from other experiments I have seen, and thinking of cool or relevant directions to go. That's a good feeling.

And, in addition to meeting people at breakfasts and lunches together, I have been going out some. Last night several of us went to a "Mexican" restaurant with a lot of nice grilled meats, where I had sea bass with avocado that was really good. We were going to go dancing afterward but it was too early and places were empty, so instead we took some wine up to the hotel's roof deck and sat talking until late. Then today, after the morning talks our afternoon was free, so many of us went on a city tour of San Jose, going to the Museum of Jade, the Teatro Nacional, a small market, and seeing a lot of parks, monuments, and historic places.

I am also working on my thesis some, in the free moments I have when I'm not too tired. But it's nice to experience the "think of exciting ideas, meet interesting people" part of science again, which feels very absent when writing up a thesis. I hope the rest of the trip is as great as this first section has been.

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