Welcome. First I guess we should make it clear, I’m vaccinated, I’ve been vaccinated, and I got vaccinated early on. If you’re reading this and not a regular around here, then you’re probably looking for some good information about the vaccine to help assuage your fears. The good news is that if you’re here you probably want someone to tell you that it’s okay, that the vaccine is safe, and that you should get it. Well I’m happy to do that for you.(more…)
You can’t teach an old spinal cord new tricks, or something like that. Up until recently (like the last ten or fifteen years), we had thought that the spinal cord was a fixed thing. It was the information highway of the body and its primary role was to receive, sort, and send information from the brain to the body and vice versa. That’s (thankfully) not the case. The truth, or at least something closer to the truth, is that the spinal cord is a lot like the brain. It can learn, think, and even act independently of the brain.(more…)
We’re back and this time working in five dimensions! But wait, we’re not done, we’re going higher and I’m not thrilled about this at all. Working in higher dimensions is a pain especially when we’re stuck in a three dimensional world. So what am I doing in a five dimensional space? Well besides pulling my hair out, I’ve been trying to do some not so basic math to find some significance, in life, but mostly in my data.(more…)
Yet another outreach event in the books! I have two more events this week and I believe that’s the last for my skype a scientist commitment. Since this term I was assigned classes practically all at once, I may re-volunteer to get a few extra classes in this term. Normally requests for my specific field don’t happen, but they’ve become more frequent, which is interesting to see because biomedical engineering, or my subset neuroengineering, isn’t a widely known field, but it is growing. All this recent outreach has gotten me thinking about what makes a good presentation, so let’s talk about it.(more…)
It feels like only yesterday I was fighting to stay alive and stay warm, but now like a bad dream it’s gone before it settled. Sure I’m still stiff from sleeping on the floor and the water isn’t on yet, but life has quickly thrown us back into “normal.” I don’t understand how people can shift so suddenly like the last week didn’t happen, but here we are, and here I am getting ready for another round of outreach.(more…)
I finally finished my video for the outreach project my main-PI tasked me with (this was the last post talking about it). There was a lot of time, effort, frustration, and I will admit, some not so kid appropriate language I was using during the editing process of the video. Mostly because I’m an idiot who had to find the most difficult way to do this project. Today we’ll cover what I did, how I hate myself enough to do it, and the end result. Let’s just say I’m not going to be a movie director or actor anytime soon…(more…)
Today was the finish line, like it or not the R21 grant had to be finished. My Co-PI seems happy enough about the outcome, so we’ll have to wait and see what the result is, it could be several months before we know anything. It was a marathon of work, data process, experimenting, and now… nothing. I’m finally done so I can actually focus on other projects, which is the topic of the day!(more…)
Writing, and filming, and edits… OH MY! I’ve done it, I’ve committed to making this science communication video (SciComm for short, if anyone was wondering about the title). Yesterday I went into the lab to do some filming and realized that I was about to make a great video, or at least I like to think so. But more importantly I was going to do it the hardest and most convoluted way possible. Why? Well, why the heck not?(more…)
Today we’re making a movie! Okay, it’s not a movie persay, it’s a virtual outreach project I’ve been tasked with by my main-PI. Unlike most outreach I do, this is going to take some planning, a bit of script writing, a easy to do exercise that can be followed at home, and lastly a little write up on everything going on. So when I say some planning, I mean a LOT of planning!(more…)
I just finished with my Skype a Scientist session! You can do it too if you want, just sign up. I had a lot of fun and while today was going to be on a slightly more depressing topic, I figure we can talk about how it went instead. I love doing outreach, it’s probably one of my favorite things about being a scientist and I got to show a whole bunch of interesting things I get to do as a scientist. This was an interesting group, so that’s also a good reason to talk about it.(more…)
I’ve been matched! No, not with a dating service, with an outreach program called Skype a Scientist. If you are a scientist (any type will do) you can get involved too! I’ve talked about some of my outreach activities in the past, but heck let’s run through why I think outreach is so awesome and how the pandemic has actually made it easier to do!(more…)
Another day, another set of problems. So what better way to put off my writing for the day than to write about not wanting to write. I feel like I’m living in a meme all of a sudden. Today I’ve got about 4353453421 things to write, give or take 4. Is it odd that I would rather be writing this than any of the stuff that matters?
True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
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.
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…
For those of you following along, I’ve been trying to crack a predictive model using some novel (read: super secret PhD work) neural data. It’s been a journey and I’ve trained and tested about a dozen or so models, with varying success. Things have been flying pretty smooth the past few weeks as I try to create the best model I could possibly create. Unfortunately, technology had other plans for me.
I have a lot of memorization to do these days. Things that are important , steps to set things up, new biology, new techniques, new, new, new… well you get the point. Memorization is the bain of my existence. It’s not even a matter of not wanting to memorize something, it’s just old war wounds, no really.
Today I get to play catch up. I’m running on not a lot of sleep, but there is so much to be done it isn’t funny. Ironically enough, it’s not all school either. I have life things catching up with me, car repairs that I need to do, house things, you know the usual day to day things that pile up despite our best efforts.
I’ve talked about my impending deadlines a lot lately. I also mentioned that I had an experiment that I needed to do to meet a deadline, well it looks like we may or may not meet this goal. Let’s talk about the latest headaches.
Well it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve been working hard to train a binary classifier to predict the two classes in my data. There has been a lot of ups and downs and more importantly, there has been some progress. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start, so let’s look at what I’ve got so far and where I’m headed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
It never occurred 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
A quick update since I have a lot of work going on today. Originally, I has some outreach planned for the day, but that had to be rescheduled. I also had a very thorough review of my qualifying exam project with some very exciting results. Once I reschedule for the actual QE, I’ll talk more about that research, but I typically devote an hour or more to writing these posts and I cannot do that today. I anticipated this though and even included it in my original post, in any case, I have another Skype a scientist session scheduled for tomorrow, but I should have more time to devote to the blog after (or maybe before, who knows).
Until next time, don’t stop learning!
Some days I feel zero motivation to do anything. Usually I indulge those feelings because if I don’t it won’t go away, more importantly if I don’t then I sit in front of a computer/book/etc. and get almost zero accomplished. Frankly, I think trying to power through the feeling and get work done just isn’t healthy and experience has shown it does absolutely nothing for me. This brings me to the topic of the day, goal setting!
This week we’ve taken a break from the math (well statistics if we want to be exact) and have looked at some of the other things that go on when doing your PhD. Tomorrow we (may) get back to the concepts, but today let’s talk about the perfect daily routine.
All work and no play… well you know how the saying goes. Here in the US we have this mindset where it’s work all day every day. That is probably one of the reasons we have such high rates of depression (we as in people pursuing a PhD). Sure one of my hobbies is blogging, I enjoy it and it is a great way to review the things I’ve been learning, but I have others and today I think we should talk about why that is important. (more…)
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…)
It has been a busy week, as you’ve seen I’ve had not one, but two Skype a scientist sessions in one day, then we did some outreach with some local 4th graders, yesterday I even posted photos of the event. Yesterday I also had a conference call to help set up an event that I’m helping run for neurotech entrepreneurs. If you follow me on twitter, you know I’ve pushed people to apply for it. So let’s talk about what I’ve got going on today!
As you may have seen, yesterday we had our lab tour group come through. So today I just wanted to share a few photos from the time they had with us, it was a lot of fun and hopefully we inspired a few kids!
When doing your advanced degrees (Masters or PhD) you end up with a lot of different responsibilities that have nothing to do with your education. That isn’t to say that it isn’t an important thing or that I hate doing it, you just don’t learn anything with regard to your study subject. Today is one of those days, let’s talk about it.
Today is Skype a Scientist day! Every term I volunteer my time and try to explain my journey, my research, and my pitfalls with students all over the US. Technically this is my second session (of six!) this term, but I wanted to talk about why I do what I do today. So if you’re interested in what it’s all about, keep reading.