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: (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)
The science museum directly below my workplace is doing an exhibition on material science, which opens next week, and I'm excited about it because I've been involved in a few ways.

I got to see a bit of the planning process, which resulted in my being tapped to be in a video about my research. So we filmed that earlier this week... it was kind of weird, because what you do is answer questions from someone sitting just beside the camera, whose voice will be totally edited out. You have to restate the questions asked, and then try to respond fluidly and naturally, hoping that you don't accidentally say anything wrong! Kind of nerve-wracking. But if I want people to see more women doing science, putting myself out there as a scientist is part of that. Presumably it gets easier to do, and it does help to practice by writing about the same ideas, even if writing is not the same as speaking.

I'll also have an image on display in the exhibition, one that I took using a special technique on the scanning electron microscope here. I think it's really cool-looking though I'm not sure about the resolution when it's enlarged. But I'm looking forward to seeing it! I am supposed to go to the press launch and the launch party (which I would probably have gone to anyway). Hopefully the exhibition comes together well, and hopefully I can get some people to go see it!
clevermynnie: (Default)
The science museum directly below my workplace is doing an exhibition on material science, which opens next week, and I'm excited about it because I've been involved in a few ways.

I got to see a bit of the planning process, which resulted in my being tapped to be in a video about my research. So we filmed that earlier this week... it was kind of weird, because what you do is answer questions from someone sitting just beside the camera, whose voice will be totally edited out. You have to restate the questions asked, and then try to respond fluidly and naturally, hoping that you don't accidentally say anything wrong! Kind of nerve-wracking. But if I want people to see more women doing science, putting myself out there as a scientist is part of that. Presumably it gets easier to do, and it does help to practice by writing about the same ideas, even if writing is not the same as speaking.

I'll also have an image on display in the exhibition, one that I took using a special technique on the scanning electron microscope here. I think it's really cool-looking though I'm not sure about the resolution when it's enlarged. But I'm looking forward to seeing it! I am supposed to go to the press launch and the launch party (which I would probably have gone to anyway). Hopefully the exhibition comes together well, and hopefully I can get some people to go see it!


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: (Default)
Unbeknownst to me, Easter is a very big deal here. I knew that Monday was a holiday, but did not know that the entire college I work at would be closed on Friday as well, so I had equipment reserved and came in as usual. I found the front doors locked, all the lights off, and the place deserted. Thanks for letting me know! There's obviously the importance of Easter in Catholicism, but I also saw signs around for memorials of the Easter Rebellion being held. I suppose it's much more a religious than a political holiday, though.

But in any case I worked on Friday, and on Saturday because there is a big push for some data I have been taking. If you are imaging things with an electron microscope, different materials will look bright or dark depending on whether they reflect a lot of electrons or not. But if you connect something to electrical ground, it'll look dark regardless because it's more energetically favorable for the electrons to go to ground than it is to be reflected. So you can use this to image pathways of electrical conduction, if you're fiddly with some of the imaging settings. And it's pretty fun! But time-consuming.

I am pushing to get a lot done before we go on vacation next week to visit family and attend a wedding. It's great having a job I enjoy this much, though I still get cranky if a long day of electron microscopy prevents me from going on a run. Balance!
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.


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.



Jan. 26th, 2012 08:56 pm
clevermynnie: (Default)
When my job starts next week, I will miss going for trail runs on weekdays. I got into a nice groove of doing a short, hilly trail run early in the week, and a long run on Fridays. Which meant I didn't have to ditch Ben for hours to go running, and the trails are less crowded on weekdays! But on the other hand, coming home from a long run to an empty house is a little sad when you know that if it were a Sunday, you could talk someone into making you an omelette.

And I'm very excited right now because, in addition to the job starting and the IMPENDING SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT, this weekend Ben and I are going to Barcelona! I found cheap airfare to go there so this trip was my Christmas present to Ben. I'm very excited about the Gaudi, the museums, the food, and strolling around somewhere that is sunny and warmer than here.
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.


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.


Aug. 3rd, 2011 05:23 am
clevermynnie: (smile)
I'm packed and ready for my ten day nanomaterials workshop, which is NSF-funded and located in Costa Rica. I'm leaving in ten minutes! (I got up too early.)

I'm a little nervous but pretty excited. The workshop itself will be low stress as far as I can tell, all the travel arrangements were made by the organizers, and most of the food and such is covered. I'm giving a poster but it's more of an educational/career-building/networking type event than a "present your cutting edge research" conference. One thing I'm nervous about: it's unclear to me if there is a hotel for the last night; I emailed someone about it but didn't get a response so I'll ask once I'm there.

I wish Ben could have come with me... the second half is at a resort on the coast in a nature preserve that sounds amazing. But his defense is right after I get back. Overall this was not the best time for a random workshop, but I'm seizing the day.


Mar. 31st, 2011 03:58 pm
clevermynnie: (and then?)
I'm back from the conference and over the torrent of events and news that greeted me when I returned to Philadelphia.

The most important thing that happened there was probably my talk, which went fine. I had a slightly weird situation in that my experimental talk was put into a computational session, but I cajoled one of the organizers into asking another session chair if I could switch sessions, and in the end the chair agreed that I could add my talk on to the end of this more relevant session. It meant that I went at the end of a 3-hour session of 10-minute talks, but I think it was still better than going at the end of a shorter but very much unrelated session. I actually felt great about my talk because I had been practicing it, but the night before I gave the talk to a grad student and undergrad from another lab, and they responded so positively to my talk that I felt really good about it. It went very smoothly, I got nice but easy questions, and now I've finally given a talk on my grad work outside Penn.

The rest of the conference was also pretty good, with several focus sessions that were useful to my research. It wasn't the best conference I've been to, mostly because it was so huge and impersonal that at times it felt like going to science talks in an airport. But I really wanted to give a talk and this was the place to do it. My budget for going was a little frustrating, though; I got a travel grant from the organization running the conference, but it was too small to really be able to cover hotel at all. So I stayed with a guildie and then crashed on the hotel couch of someone with better funding than me, so that I only needed funding for airfare, conference registration, and food, which my travel grant just barely covered. Maybe one reason that I was a bit disappointed by the conference is that I had to jump through so many hoops just to get there. But I submitted my reimbursement paperwork already, and in the end it wasn't so bad.

I got to see a lot of Dallas but didn't take a lot of pictures. I think I mostly took photos of the pioneer cemetery which was inexplicably adjacent to the convention center. The weather was great, so a lot of people just hung out chatting in the cemetery, which was very surreal.


Mar. 21st, 2011 08:44 pm
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
I have to admit that I have always had a somewhat dim view of Texas, partly because Texas is the rich, self-absorbed state next to my poor, largely unsuccessful home state of New Mexico (I hear this also describes the relationship between Oregon and California). This trip is the first time I've really spent any significant time here, though, beyond layovers and driving across the northern bit of the state around Amarillo. And I have to say, it did not occur to me that you could get things like Hatch green chile and sopapillas here. Texas, it's too hot here in the summers for me, but you did win me over a little bit just then.

I had a fun weekend, playing a lot of WoW since I brought a laptop and it's fun to game with someone in the same room, but also helping out at the Texas Theatre, having drinks with more area guildies, playing tennis, and seeing where JFK was shot (gruesome but interesting). Today was the first day of the conference, and it is one of those enormous mega-conferences with many simultaneous sessions and masses of people everywhere. I went to some good talks but I also felt a little like I was trying to hear good science in an airport. I think the last time I was at a conference like this was 5.5 years ago, in Puerto Rico. But, I am happy because my talk, which was initially miscategorized into a computational session, has now been fudged into the appropriate experimental session instead. Plus this way I get to go to the experimental session, which was being held simultaneously and looks much more interesting for me.

I seem to know a few people at this conference, but no one that actually works on the same stuff that I do, so I don't go to talks with anyone else and then I just randomly see people in passing. That is weird; I am used to either going it alone at conferences or going to everything with my coworkers. This whole thing is a little surreal-feeling.
clevermynnie: (and then?)
I'm in the airport waiting for a flight to Dallas. I am going to a big American Physical Society conference, which will last all of next week. I'm pretty excited because I am giving a talk there, and while it's a short talk, it's going to be the first time I've given a talk about my grad school research outside of Penn. I've done posters, quite a few, but I think speaking experience is important. Preparing was kind of stressful though, since the coolest stuff I've done is sort of complex and difficult to distill into a really short talk. And I had to get everything together, grade quizzes this week and take a hit on how much research I had time for as I prepared the talk, go for a long run this morning so that I don't have to somehow find several hours to do it over the weekend.

I am staying with a guildie in Dallas for part of the time, someone I've met before who I'm excited about seeing again. And I'll be staying with someone really cool from Penn for part of the time, during the actual conference. I am doing everything on the cheap because I basically just have a small travel grant from APS to cover my expenses, and after airfare and conference registration there is not much money left to get me through the week. But it's enough, I think, since I am essentially couchsurfing this meeting.

In some ways what I really want is to get back to work and be able to just focus on research. I am close to something really cool and impatient to get further along. But in some ways I think it'll be nice to have a week where I am working, but away from the lab and from habits and ruts and drudgery.


Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:46 pm
clevermynnie: (mask)
My legs are feeling less sore, I think I've gotten all the extra sleep I needed, and I am still reeling a bit from the race this weekend. I posted the race report I wrote here to an ultra listserv that I recently joined, and one of the few 50-mile runners who finished wrote to me and another person saying that our encouragement when we saw him on the course really helped him keep going. The ultra community is SO NICE. I am feeling really invigorated about running, and I almost want to go out and do more trail runs right now, so it's a bit of a struggle to make myself take the recovery time that I probably really need. Maybe I will go swimming tomorrow, as a compromise.

Yesterday, I made myself come to work to do one measurement that I had gotten ready for on Friday; the walk to work was fine once my legs warmed up. But then that measurement went really, really well, and I had a great meeting about the project that measurement was for, and you know... I am really excited about this project. My preliminary data is great, it has the potential to be very high impact, and the path forward is pretty clear. I haven't been this excited about my work in awhile, and it's a really good feeling. Contrast this to how I felt after the NCR Trail Marathon in November, when not only did I have a bad race but I realized afterward that anticipation for the race had been the only thing lifting my spirits because work was so crappy. This is much, much better.

Recently I was talking to someone about work and different lab environments, and in response to something I said, the other person replied, "well, of course, because you are an extrovert." My initial thought was, have you met me?, but as I pondered it more I realized that I am probably a scientific extrovert. I really like collaborative environments, I like learning from other people and synthesizing their approaches into what seems best from my perspective, and I like brainstorming with colleagues about issues or new projects or science we don't get. I can do a lot on my own, but I feel that science gets stronger when you have multiple points of view considered. (Within logistical reason, I know that huge collaborations become very unwieldy places to get things done.) I had never thought of myself as a scientific extrovert (professional extrovert? hmmm) before but it fits.


Dec. 22nd, 2010 08:19 pm
clevermynnie: (al fresco)
Holy crap. Usable data? Yes!

Graduation someday? I HOPE SO!
clevermynnie: (Default)
I think things started to get crazy on Wednesday of last week, when I went for an 8-mile run and felt surprisingly sluggish and bad. Later in the day I developed a sore throat, which turned into a cold on Thursday. I stayed home, wanting to get better as fast as possible because on Friday I had to catch a 6:30 AM bus to NYC for Gotham-Metro, a condensed matter physics conference which is organized by grad students and which I was going to present a poster at along with several other people from my group. Luckily, staying home did help to get me unsick, so Gotham-Metro was enjoyable. There were two invited professor talks that were both great, some good students talks and some bad ones, and an interesting faculty panel on unanswered questions. I like going to smaller conferences sometimes, local ones, because it is such a low-pressure way to get to present your work. And sometimes cool things pan out from smaller conferences, like when I met someone at an APS-California section meeting who invited me to give a talk as part of a seminar series.

I had assumed the weekend would be relaxed, but Ben had just come back from his own longer conference trip, and we spent most of Saturday doing beer-related stuff; we bottled a cider we had been fermenting with an English ale yeast, and then brewed a Scottish ale that is now fermenting. That was basically all of Saturday, and then on Sunday I went for a 21-mile run, then took a very fast shower and inhaled a tuna sandwich so that we could go to gaming, where the rest of my day was passed as a wizard.

I both feel behind and want a break. I think I am not good at distinguishing breaks from responsibilities sometimes.


Sep. 20th, 2010 10:15 pm
clevermynnie: (mask)
I'm back from Chicago.

The workshop was interesting, with more information that will be useful to my next project than I expected to find. My advisor talked about work that another student and I did, and her talk went well; we also presented a poster which went fine. There were a few people at the workshop who were being jerks, picking on other presenters and asking questions in a mean way, unwilling to let anything drop, and that was discouraging to see. But there was a pretty funny theorist who kept clarifying that he had invented things "in the eighties", which was bizarre but entertaining. Before I went, I was feeling a bit like "can't I just get to work", but I did get a lot out of hearing the talks. It was also really nice going with two other students from my lab and having a lot of productive work discussion (in addition to a lot of non-work discussion, of course).

And I got to be in Chicago! There wasn't time for everything that I wanted to do there, but since we were staying so close to downtown I did get to see a lot. I went running twice, stumbling across things like the theater district, the Sun-Times and Tribune buildings, the Art Institute and a lot of fountains and flowers in Millenium Park. I saw the outside of the Robie House, the Frank Lloyd Wright prairie house on the University of Chicago campus, and on Saturday my friends came up from Indiana and we went to the Field Museum. It was fun! I hadn't been to Chicago in over ten years, and wasn't sure how much I would enjoy visiting, but it is a pretty nice city. In the fall, at least.

I came back Saturday night, got up early Sunday to go for a 20-mile run that turned into 22 miles because of the Philadelphia ING Half-Marathon going along my normal route in the opposite direction from the way that I wanted to go, then cleaned up and went to play D&D with some of Ben's friends and eat a lot of tacos from my favorite taco place here. And now things are back to normal, kind of, although there is a lot going on with me for the next month or so. Women+Power conference this weekend, Freedom's Run marathon next weekend, and a week and a half after that is when I go to California for a bit. Things are picking up!


clevermynnie: (Default)

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