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Posts tagged “education

Day #156: Experiment results

cervical spine

Well to say it’s been a busy week is probably an understatement and it doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon. As it stands today was the end of our data collection. We managed to get ~15 subjects to go through our protocol and while I cannot share anything (yet) I can talk about the stuff I’ve learned and what is coming.

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Day #155: Experiments!!

So it turns out when you have 12 hours of experiments to do there isn’t much time for other things. Yesterday we had 3 experiments, today we have another 3 experiments (technically I’m writing this yesterday night, confusing I know). So basically I don’t have a whole lot of time to write. I’m going off to get some sleep and tomorrow (today, again confusing I know) I get to do this all over again. I hope wednesday I will have a bit more time and we can get into why the spinal cord is so cool! In any case, stay tuned!


Day #154: Review – Spinal stretch reflexes support efficient hand control

Fig1(A)

Fig 1 (a) from the paper, showing the multijoint perturbation away from target (red) with simultaneous flexion at the elbow and either flexion, extension, or no perturbation at the wrist joint.

Today is that critical review paper I promised. Everything following this introduction explains how the experiment was done, what they found, and why I think it is particularly interesting. To me the experiment was so well thought out I couldn’t think of anything I would change. Instead I focused on the methodology they used and why it highlights the importance of a well thought out experiment. This is really my first attempt at a “critical review” so take it how you will.

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Day #153: The week ahead

plan for the week

Tomorrow is more experiments! We’re doing all the experiments tomorrow. Okay, not all of them, but we have an ambitious three experiments lined up for tomorrow so it will definately be a long, long day. Still recovering from surgery too… so yeah it’s going to be a time. There are a few other things going on this week, so let’s look ahead and maybe talk about what I’m thinking of doing for the next round of themed posts (educational topic posts).

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Day #152: Improving my writing

writing

One of the outcomes of my recent meeting with my PI (my main one), is that I am going to be actively working on my writing. While I do this to improve my writing, this is far more informal than the writing I would be doing for a confrence or journal paper (both of which I’ve written). That isn’t to say that I cannot improve, there’s always room for improvement and I could use a LOT of improvement.

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Day #151: Surgery at the VA, a runthrough

VA hospital

Nice and foggy today, look at that nasty roof! Got to love the VA (even though it looks more like a prison, which I guess it sort of is.

Now that I’m somewhat out of my anesthesia sickness (seriously not fun), I figured I would give a rundown on what having surgery through the VA looks like and some of the things you have to do pre-surgery to get ready. Since I’ve never had a surgery outside of the VA, it would be interesting to see how much of this applies to other hospitals, but I suspect that the answer would be not much.

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Day #150: Surgery update

Well I’m alive, despite the VA’s best efforts. I’m struggling with some serious nausea to the point of vomiting, which has never happened to me before. I’m also in a lot of pain, but that was expected. In any case, start to finish (start as in the operating room and finish as in getting home so +30 minutes or so to the actual finish time) it took ~9 hours total good times for everyone. Anywho, I feel like death so I’ll write more later.


Day #149: An auspicious start

Brain

Well we did an experiment. I wish I could talk more about what we did, how we did, and why we did. Alas, I cannot. So instead, let’s talk about the vague how it went metric as in, maybe we found something maybe we didn’t, also this experiment highlights several quarks between the my school lab and the clinical lab.

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Day #148: Experimental design

 

EEGCap

Today is day one of ten for the time that I have to do some experiments. It’s an awkward time for sure, I mean surgery, school, etc. However, that’s just the way things work in academia, I actually had a break, so I’m ready to go to be honest. Which really means this isn’t horrible timing. I’ve already discussed the million things going on these weeks, but let’s talk about what goes into experiments, really.

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Day #147: First day in the lab

lab

A semi good photo of our lab!

Today is the first day in the lab since break. It was nice to have some time off, I got some housework done, got to spend the bulk of my time sick (not my idea of fun), and best of all I got to see some of the city. It’s been good and now that I’m ready to get back to it, the week is looking to be busy.
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Day #146: Back to school!

Back2School

My photo, but not my school, just one I visited.

Tomorrow is the big day, back to school, back to classes. This means that any and all house projects will inevitably come to a screeching halt until spring break (most likely) and it marks the shift in blog posts from life outside the lab to life in the lab. There are a few things I like to do to get ready for classes the day before, so let’s talk school.

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Day #144: Another day spent at the VA

VA hallway

An endless VA hallway, it feels like a metaphor for something… can’t quite put my finger on it.

It’s been an interesting few days, I’ve had several meetings with my PI and my Co-PI, I’ve got classes starting again, and I have a surprise experiment. However, I have something else coming up that I failed to mention, I’m also having surgery! Which means the inevitable jumping through hoops to get ready. Each VA seems to do things differently, so this will be a fun attempt at explaining how it works.

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Day #143: Meeting with my two PI’s

Exo

Some of our exoskeletons from the lab

Today was an interesting set of events. I had my meeting with my two PI’s (which I still think would make a hilarious television show). The meeting went well, I’m very excited, but I’m also getting ready to be very, VERY busy. Let’s breakdown how it went shall we?

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Day #142: So you want to record from the brain…

EEG setup

My college helping me set up for the experiment I just did. This is how we add gel to the head, there is a tiny hole by each sensor, we then insert a blunt tip needle (we do NOT puncture the skin!) to add the gel between the sensor and the top of the head to eliminate the air gap caused by the hair. Unfortunately it looks scary, but we need something tiny to get around the sensor (if you look close you can seethe tiny, tiny opening each senor has). The lights on each sensor tell us how good of a connection we have, red means bad, yellow means we’re getting close, and green means good. 

Today’s post was inspired by a conversation I was having yesterday in the comment section (you know who you are and thank you for the questions). I thought I would elaborate on how we record from the brain and why. There are a lot of different ways we can do this, some of them are super invasive and others are non-invasive. In the lab I work in now, we do things non-invasively there are good things about this and bad things about this, so let’s get into it!

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Day #141: PI meeting result

brains

Well I’ve had my first meeting with my main PI (vs my Co-PI). It went well, I’m very happy with the result and while I’m not at the end of my PhD (yet), it seemed like we were in agreement with my progress. I still have the meeting with my PI and Co-PI coming up, but let’s go over some of the things that we talked about in this meeting.
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Day #140: A meeting with my PI

 

EEGCap

Tools of the trade, an EEG cap I set up for my experiment

With the term about to start (we get another week, even though some schools are already kicking off), I have a few things that I need to do prior to the start. One of those things was make more work for myself, no really. I made a few emails between my two PI’s (which sounds like a TV show) and arranged for a meeting.

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Day #136: A look forward

a look forward

The obligatory photo of a path that goes on into the distance (taken from the hike we went on during the neurotech confrence).

Yesterday we took a look back at the past decade. I’m not a fan of looking back, it’s not how I’ve survived this long, it’s not something I’m particularly comfortable with, and even though it wasn’t a bad thing to do, I would rather look forward and talk about the things that will be happening (hopefully) this year. Let’s ring in the new year with the to-do list for this year!

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Day #135: A decade in review

robot

With everyone doing a review of what happened in the past decade, I thought it would be good to look back and cover the things I’ve done over the years. Is it a little self serving? Maybe, but then again it is my blog, so why not? Here’s my decade in review.

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Day #132: Rat model validation!

stock photography Pet rat closeup

Yesterday I mentioned that I had some rat data to go through. It was an old(er) dataset, about five years-old to be exact, but it was one that was going to help me validate some of my findings. Unfortunately there existed no invasive human datasets to compare my human data to, so I needed to find an animal model, in this case a rat model. Let’s discuss the importance.

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Day #124: On the importance of time off

Overworked

When I left the military, I threw myself into work. I was offered — and I took — all the overtime I could get. If I stayed busy, I didn’t have to think about anything else and at the time, it is what I wanted. I didn’t want to have to think about anything else. It was an unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle, one I don’t necessarily regret, just one I had to learn from.

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Day #123: Well I HAD a meeting

timeobsessed

Today I reluctantly had two things to do on my list, this despite being sick. Now, I don’t normally like going out when I’m unwell, I don’t want to get others sick, I don’t want to suffer more, blah blah blah. The usual things you’re supposed to do when you are sick. Well today I was not that lucky, let’s talk about why.

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Day #122: Moving forward

prosthetic head

After the events of the past week, I need a break. Not just because of all the excitement that has occured, but because I am sick. Like bad. There is never a good time to be sick per say, but if I had to be sick, this was about as good of timing as I could ask for. Let’s talk about what’s next once I’m feeling better.

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Day #121: Qualifying Exam Aftermath

Steele - QE

I don’t normally share photos of myself, but I thought I would share the final slide, I love it so much.

Well if you don’t follow me on twitter, then you don’t know the results of my qualifying exam. Well I’ll tell you, but not yet. First let’s talk about how it went and what the qualifying exam is (I know we’ve covered this already here, but it would be good to do it again).

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Day #109: Post exam exhaustion

exhausted student.jpg

It’s over. The term has finally come to an end and I’ve taken my final as of yesterday. It’s bittersweet, on one hand I can now (sort of) relax. On the other, it means that there are exactly zero chances for me to improve my grade. I’ve done my best and now I need to hope that it is enough to get me to the finish line.

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Day #102: Finals ahead!

Warning sign

Well it’s that time of year again, finals! On one hand I’m excited at the prospect of being done with the term, on the other I’m a notoriously bad test taker. I deal with a lot of anxiety you see and even when I know how to solve the problem, come test day I end up drawing a blank or making very stupid mistakes. Standardized tests are the bane of my existence!!

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Day #101: Holiday

Well today is thanksgiving, not a holiday I celebrate, but I’m happy to have the day off at least. I’ll be taking the day to get some work done and relax some. Deadlines are coming so I can’t take the whole day to myself, but at least it’s a low stress day.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!


Day #100: Graduating lab members

Day 100 - PhD defense offense

Image from: xkcd.com

Wow, time flies, we’re already on day 100. Still not half way done, but it certainly doesn’t feel like 100 days of writing. Today has been a busy day, which is why I’m writing so late. With the end of the term comes other projects that need to be addressed, namely my qualifying exam, final exams, and other lab members having their Ph.D defense. Yep, we have not one, not two, but three people defending their Ph.D this term.

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Day #99: Data request, a update

letters vs email

Sometimes emails can still be exciting!

I’ve got news! In my last post on the subject I said that I wasn’t expecting a response from the lab I was requesting data from until Monday, if at all. Well would you believe I got a response! It wasn’t a “here’s the data response,” but it is progress. Let me explain why.

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Day #98: Laptop troubles

Well it finally happened. My laptop looks pretty dead. Right now I have it in pieces while I try to figure out what went wrong with it. Thankfully I have a desktop computer that I use for all my heavy computing as a back up. Just one more expense I guess, I should be grateful that it wasn’t something more serious like the hard drive going out.

So short post, I know, but I have to get this fixed or find some sort of resolution since my laptop is an important part of how I get work done. I’ll have a longer post tomorrow, but for now I think that is it.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!


Day #97: Neural network models

Neural net

Today should be an interesting day for me. I plan to do a deep dive into the world of neural networks to better understand how they work and the best type to apply to my data. There are a few, quite a few in fact that I could use and really it depends on how I want to frame my problem, so let’s look at what I’ve got planned.

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Day #96: The art of requesting data

Day 96 - mice

I have some data. This shouldn’t be news, I’ve been talking about how I’m trying to train a model to predict an output using this data and all the woes that have come from the training process. Turns out I have a problem, well more like questions that need answers and for that I need help.

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Day #94: Paper formatting

submtting a paper

Ugh!! After over six weeks my paper was rejected becuase it didn’t fall in line with what the editor wanted. This is frustrating because each journal has different formatting requirements and you cannot submit to multiple journals at once so we need to sit and wait.

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Day #93: QE date is set… again!

5 tacks on a single date on a calendar

5 tacks on a single date on a calendar

Exciting news!!!!! Well as you can tell from the title, my qualifying exam date is set. After some time emailing back and forth I finally just sent out a doodle poll to get everyone to vote on what time would work best for them. Last night, my last committee member added their availability to the poll and with that, I have a new time and date!

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Day #92: Missed meetings…

65874759

As you may be aware, I am planning an experiment! Cue upbeat music Unfortunately record scratch I’m nowhere near ready. It’s been a process for sure and we are (maybe?) back on track to get started soon. Today I had a meeting scheduled with my PI to discuss the details, but…

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Day #86: Or maybe not…

vicous cat

Even my cat doesn’t like the news.

Last post I had triumphantly declared that I had scheduled my QE date…. wellllllll maybe not. I had a last minute email from one of my committee members saying they had another obligation that day that they had forgotten about. So today let’s talk about why that is okay, even though it isn’t really.

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Day #85: My QE date is set

Brain

Sometimes you need to get… a head. See what I did there?

Well it happened, the date for my qualifying exam has been set. I’m nervous, I’m excited, I’m mostly just anxious to get it done. Quite frankly I’m exhausted, so it will be nice to get one thing off my to-do list. Let’s look at how I need to get ready.

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Day #84: Model training progress

 

Day 84 - SVM hyperplane

Two dimensional data is easier to visualize than 202 dimensional data.

I don’t normally leave my computer on 24 hours a day, but it has been hard a work, so it hasn’t been off in days. Training a model can take some time, as I am finding out and while I’ve made progress on the resulting model, it’s still not where I want it. Let’s talk about what has been going on.

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Day #83: An unexpected gift

Day 83 - Gift

I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve been doing science outreach on a regular basis for the past 3-4 years now. Specifically with Skype a scientist I’ve volunteered every term since it was pretty much first started. My secret, if not horribly kept, is this… I am ALWAYS nervous to give my talk. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it and let me explain why.

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Day #82: Congrats, it’s an overfit model

Day 82 - example overfit model

There I was patiently waiting for my data to finish being processed, an hour, two, time kept moving as did the little animation letting me know that the algorithm was still doing its thing. Then it was done, I had a new, more complete model and it was glorious… until it wasn’t.

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Day #81: Creating a Model

Day 81 - Classifier

Today is going to be a long day. I’m training a model using some data I’ve collected. Now, depending on your background that sentence either meant something to you or was complete gibberish. In either case, let’s talk about what I’m doing, even though I can’t get into specifics about my data.

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Day #80: Experimental Design

 

Day 80 - Experiment

I have funding for an experiment. Well let me rephrase, I’ve had funding for an experiment. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s everything I wanted it to be… but there is a catch. My PI and I don’t see eye to eye regarding the experimental protocol. It’s not a matter of a fledgling PhD student thinking he knows better, he is well know for losing sight of the big picture in favor of collecting as much data as he possibly can.

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Day #79: QE update

day 79 - presentation

As promised from last post, I have an update regarding my QE. This will be brief, but there are a few final things I need to get done before I can do my presentation so let’s talk about that!

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Day #78: The Qualifying Exam

exam

It never occured to me that this was unique to the American higher education system. However, when I was having a conversation with an overseas collaborator at the Bristol Robotics Lab in the UK, I got a confused response when I mentioned I was getting ready to do my qualifier.

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Day #77: Sometimes life gets in the way

Well it looks like it’s another day without a post, don’t worry I’m not making it a habit, but I’ve had some personal issues come up today that I needed to deal with. Not to worry though, I’ll be back at it tomorrow.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!


Day #76: Organization

day 76 - organization

Today is going to be a busy one. Not for me exactly, but my computer will be busy cracking away at the code I wrote. Unfortunately it takes FOREVER to run, but it got me thinking about MATLAB and how we write code for everything.  More to the point, it got me thinking about how I organize my files.
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Day #75: Deadlines in Academia

5 tacks on a single date on a calendar

 

5 tacks on a single date on a calendar

Getting a PhD is a weird process. Sometimes it seems like everything is falling apart and somehow (hopefully) it comes together in the end. To that point, in an academic setting, deadlines tend to group together. For instance I have not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five deadlines coming up back to back. Today, let’s talk about why that is in my case.
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Day #74: Finding your motivation

day 74 - motivation

You don’t want to do it. I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t want to do it either. So what do you do when the work is piling up and the weight of things in your to do box is so massive that you feel like you can’t move? Well first, remember you’re not alone. Next, …well that depends on you.
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Day #73: Halloween!!

Today is Halloween, my favorite holiday! I don’t usually do anything too spectacular for the day, it’s more of an excuse to binge horror movies and enjoy the halloween candy I bought. In the spirit of halloween, I don’t plan on posting anything major today. We can get into it tomorrow, but as I’ve mentioned over the course of the last 72 days, taking a break can be a good thing.

If you are looking for a ghoulish reading treat, I recommend my yearly post on the REAL zombies of nature! Be warned, it’s not for the squeamish, that’s for sure! In lieu of my usual sign off, let’s just say

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

halloween


Day #72: The dreaded email…

email

Fun fact, no one ever enjoyed sending an email. Least of all an email to someone you’ve never met, not just an email, a cold email. In the spirit of halloween, let’s talk about the scariest thing I can think of outside of the horror of finding no significance in your data.

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Day #67: On being a student coordinator

wiring

Look at my beautiful wiring job!!!!

I figure we can finish out the week by talking about yet another project that doesn’t involve my research. I’m a student chair for a workshop for neurotech entrepreneurs. Fun fact: I’ve never done this before. Yep, there has to be a first time for everything you do and this will be my first time attempting to run one of these things. Let’s talk about what that looks like. (more…)