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Posts tagged “teaching

Another surprise class and the week ahead

I don’t even know what to say at this point except… oops. I was asked to teach yet another class and once again I’m giving my PSA, stop being good at stuff or others will ask you to do something with the stuff you’re good at. To be fair I don’t even think I’m “good” at what I’m being asked to teach either, so it’s more a matter of no one else in the lab knows how to do what I did so it’s up to me to teach it.. yet again.


The third lecture!?

It’s time! Okay not quite, but very soon! It’s time for the last of my summer lectures for the interns and I’m excited to wrap this up and focus on other work. There’s a lot going on so maybe first we’ll talk about how my schedule conflict shaped up, what I’ll be teaching, and why I love this class so much. I’ve been debating about making a seperate post to share the knowledge. Since I did that last year, with the classes I’m teaching this year, I don’t know if it makes sense. Maybe a review would be in order anyway…


The second lecture!

Who writes a blog and forgot he’s teaching a class tomorrow? This guy! No really, it totally slipped my mind and I only recently sent out the reminder to the lab letting them know it was going on. It’s a bit shocking, but it’s okay because I’m mostly ready for this class, I just need to put a few slides together if I want to be extra fancy about it, but I’ve planned it out in advance.


The first lecture

The thing is today?! What, how did that even happen? Yes, I know the linear nature of time, but wow does time have no meaning these days. What am I talking about you ask? Well today is my first lecture, hence the title of the post. Unfortunately I’m not exactly ready, but I am going to be recycling a lot of the stuff I used last year when I taught this class, so that shouldn’t be a huge problem…. or will it?


Summer schooled

It’s that time of the year again! It’s summer term, which means that on both the school and hospital sides we will be getting students for summer internships. This is good in that we’ll have some extra hands for experiments, but it also means that we’re teaching the students how we operate in the lab. The difference between the school experience and the hospital experience is that on the school side they take actual lecture style courses to help get them up to speed. Which means someone has to teach those courses… I’m one of those someones.


Part three, extreme PC modding!

Where we are at, for the moment.

It’s no secret, it’s been a hell of a week for me. To help distract me (unsuccessfully) I decided to do some of the major mods to the PC that needed to happen in order to get everything the way I want it for the final assembly. I’m hoping tomorrow will be that day, but there are still (STILL) parts I’m waiting on, so it may be a photo finish. If not, well I can always finish is during the week or next weekend (probably).


The final day of summer internship

Today marks the last day of the summer internship for our early career undergrad researchers. On paper, it’s been a long, sometimes bumpy road that wasn’t always the easiest thing to work through. In reality, it was all too short and it feels like we just got to know our interns and now it’s time to say goodbye. Through the experience I’ve got to watch the intern I was mentoring grow as a person, and grow more confident in herself. It’s been a privilege that I got to be a part of this.


So you want to email a PI

It’s that time of the year again, people are gearing up to apply for graduate school and with it a flurry of things to get done. Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but if you’re planning on making the jump, now is the time to lock in the schools you want to attend. More important than the school is the lab you want to work, you have looked into the labs at your dream school… right? Finding a good PI (primary investigator or the boss of the lab) is, in my opinion, even more important than getting into that dream school of yours. So buckle up and we’re going to talk about how we find the perfect lab.


The end of summer internship

Well today wasn’t the official day, but we had our first presentations for the summer internship program. Friday will be the last day for the interns and we will bid them farewell and good luck with whatever they do in life. The presentations today were meant to be fun and just a way to celebrate everything the interns learned while they were with us. We got to see work done in all the labs and the experiences were varied, so that made for an interesting time. Basically summer is near the end and it’s a little hard to process to be honest.


Nothing like the first time

There’s nothing like your first time. The first time you accomplish something is new and exciting. Feelings that are hard to capture a second time, much less repeatedly. It’s a magical experience, especially when the first time is good and can be a powerful memory to hold on to no matter how badly things go. When it comes to presentations, in my opinion, everytime is the first time and that can be a point of nervous energy for a lot of people. Next week is presentation time for the summer interns, for their the first time, ever.


Intro to MATLAB – Part 5

Well we’re doing it. We’re adding to the MATLAB course I taught. Today we’re going to dive into functions, more importantly why you may want to write your own function, when you probably don’t need to, and how to tell the difference. This of course was inspired by the stuff I had to do the other day and when I realized I should just stuff everything into a function, life became a lot less complicated. Don’t worry, functions are your friends!


I’m teaching solid modeling, again.

The lightbulb from my last lectures, you can make one too (here)!

Well I got a surprise email from my main-PI yesterday reminding me that I was teaching two classes this week. I knew it was coming, the surprise was that the summer courses are still going on, I haven’t gotten a single email about them since I taught my intro to MATLAB class. Normally when I teach I put all the information out there on the web for all of you to use it how you see fit. This class isn’t going to be that way, but there’s a good reason for it.


Experiment result preview

This summer I am performing an experiment that could change our understanding of what a certain type of stimulation is doing. It’s all incredibly exciting (as always when I’m in my Co-PI’s lab) and I get to be the first author on the result. If we can show that this thing we are looking for is true then it will be a big shift in our understanding, but more importantly it will open the door to new types of non-invasive treatments. While I cannot talk about the details (as always) I can share that I’m excited about what may be coming.


Intro to MATLAB – Part 4

computer programming
computer programming
As a reminder, always have your coding cactus nearby in case you need some motivation (slap to activate super motivation powers).

We made it! This is the last post (for now anyway) in my four part Intro to MATLAB series. I reserve the right to go back and write more on the topic, but at the moment this is the end. If you’re just finding this and want to read the other posts in the series, I’ve made a super helpful Intro to MATLAB category where they are listed. Today we’re going to take a dive into editing code, finding ways to make your life easier, and just some bits of magic I’ve learned over the years that makes my life so much easier now. Let’s goooooo!


Intro to MATLAB – Part 3

To debug or not to debug. Just kidding you’re always going to need to debug. My class has officially ended, so this weekend we’re posting the last two parts to the four part Intro to MATLAB series. This lecture I taught my class how to use the debugger in MATLAB to solve any sort of problem they may run into and how to make sense of any issues they had. Unfortunately this means there is no code associated with this class, but we can still go into detail. The best part about being able to debug is that it makes you look like a coding god, so it’s a skill worth learning.


Intro to MATLAB – Part 2

I’m teaching an intro to MATLAB class and if it’s one thing I hate it’s hording knowledge so I’m sharing it here for all of you to enjoy! If you missed the first part, fear not you can find it here. I’ve also created a special category (the Intro to MATLAB category) where you can find these posts and a whole lot of other things I’ve taught, like my 10 week solid modeling for beginners classes and my incredibly detailed and surprisingly popular, know your spinal cord series (my personal favorite). Okay enough plugging my classes, let’s talk MATLAB.


Intro to MATLAB – Part 1

Not MATLAB, but it looked nice.

Per my usual routine, I’m teaching a class and instead of hording the knowledge I’m putting it here for all of you to use! I’m even going to attach the example code I wrote, which has enough comments to fill a small book, to help everyone just starting out. As I explained to my students, this is an intro to MATLAB course so my focus is on showing how things are done in MATLAB and less on how to problem solve using MATLAB. Although the last two lectures have not been created yet so they may focus on problem solving, who knows.


Pre-class disaster

What’s the rule? If something can go wrong, it will? I’m fairly sure that applies in this case. I am just hours away from teaching my first class of four and nothing seems to be going right. So I need to step away before I throw something (okay not really, but I wish I could). It’s frustrating and part of the issue is that this was thrown together so quickly without any sort of prep beforehand. So what’s the backup plan, well that’s the topic of the day.


Surprise class prep time

Between the bout of depression and the fact that I have some weird thing going on that bloodwork apparently cant figure out I have accomplished roughly zero of the prep I need for my surprise class (more here). So how do I come up with four classes worth of material in just a few hours… magic! I wish, but really I think the best thing for me to do is come up with an outline and then just focus on the first lecture (of four). Since I try to write daily, I figure we can go through my thought process together!


Surprise teaching, seriously.

Well this is awkward. My main-PI just asked me to teach a course on MATLAB to our new summer interns. Most of them have never used MATLAB before and those that have probably know very little about it. To fix this my main-PI told me that I was going to teach a course on it. At first I thought it was one, but it turns out he want’s four classes (two hours long each) on it. I was trying to have a light summer, but that doesn’t look like it will happen.


Intro to ICA

Independent component analysis, probably not something you hear about all that often unless you’re in a field that uses it. If you’ve found this via google or the such, then you’re probably looking for an explanation on what the heck ICA is and how to use it. Fear not, today we’re going over the why of ICA, why it works, why we use it, and why it isn’t the perfect tool we wish it was. Hint, the reason it isn’t perfect is because of math, stupid math. Quick note, I’ll be focusing on EEG uses for ICA, but there are tons of other applications and this knowledge will still apply to them as well.


First class of the summer

I’m teaching again! Okay, I didn’t exactly stop, I mentor and do other things, but tomorrow is the first class of the summer that I’m teaching. Which means today I need to finish the slides I’m using, review the materials, and get everything ready so everything will go smoothly. There’s a lot of moving parts that have to happen and while I’m not particularly new to this, it will be the first time teaching the topic. What topic is that? Well…


How to find the right lab for your PhD

Going into a PhD program is a confusing whirlwind of stress, new experiences, and the general feeling of being lost. You do belong there… right? You know what’s harder than making the choice to get your PhD? Finding the lab you want to call home for the next five or more years. Inspired by advice I gave to one of the undergrads I’m mentoring, today we’re going to talk about how you should hunt down a lab you want to be a part of. It’s that time of the year again, but don’t worry, finding the right lab for you doesn’t need to be scary.


The start of summer teaching

Today is the start of our labs summer classes. This marks the beginning of roughly 12 weeks worth of lectures on the stuff we do in the lab for our undergrad and high school students. It will be a chance to teach them how to use some of the techniques they will be working with during their summer with us and it will also be a good refresher for everyone in the lab, because we tend to focus on very specific analysis when we do our research it helps teaching each other some of the things we do well.


Summer teaching

It’s that time of the year again! We’re taking on undergrad and high school students for the summer research program! An exciting chance for people to get their hands dirty and learn what it’s like to work in a lab. The best part is that most of the people attending are paid! That’s right, undergrads are paid to be there. That also means I get to put on my teacher hat, which I absolutely love. Today we’re going to talk about what I’m teaching and I’ll probably spend a bit of time talking about how much I enjoy teaching, let’s go!


More on mentorship

It’s dangerous to go alone!

One of the more enjoyable aspects (see: favorite thing ever) of being a PhD candidate and about half way done with my degree (… WAIT. HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN?!) is that I get to be a mentor. To be fair, I’ve been mentoring since my senior year of undergrad, but my style has developed and I don’t… flail as much as I used to when I first started mentoring students.


Day 345: Undergrad research presentations

Virtual classroom

Well today is day one of three for wrapping up our undergrad/high school research experience. We had a group of about 50 I think, just in our lab and a good portion of them were high school students. Because we’re living in a pandemic, this was all done virtually! Today we get the first glimpse into how we did as mentors.


Day 343: On lab equipment


Luckily this wasn’t my fault, but it does make for a good story now.

It was bound to happen eventually. We all knew it would, but we didn’t expect it to fail in such a spectacular manner. That is to say, all at once. One of the people I’m mentoring checked out some lab equipment since we had come up with a way to do experiments from the comfort (see: safety) of her home. That was the plan anyway…


Day 337: The end of summer mentoring


Still trying to get used to the idea of virtual conferences.

Well we still have a month of summer break left, but we do have the end of summer courses coming. In just a week we’re having our undergrad researcher conference (virtually of course). Everyone will get a 5 minute block to showcase their poster, talk about their experience, and get a chance to answer questions about the projects they worked on (another 5 minutes max). The whole thing will take three days to get though.


Day 334: 3D printing, my final summer class

Robot parts

One of the slides I used in my 3D printing course, this was the robot I designed and 3D printed (prior to assembly) for my Masters degree.

Well I got a chance to give my last lecture yesterday (virtually of course) on 3D printing. I worked literally weeks to get everything ready and it went off (mostly) without a hitch. The world of 3D printing is full of vast, multifaceted, and divergent technologies with more applications than I could possibly list in a single lecture. In fact, they offer entire 12 week courses on 3D printing, so I had to cram everything together into a nice 1-2 hour presentation, where to start?!


Day 333: Solid modeling course day 3

3D printer

My 3D printer still working hard, but I’m still having troubles!

Yesterday was the last day for my solid modeling class and surprisingly I got more questions than the previous days so that made me very happy. Today is my 3D printing course, so we’ll talk about how that went tomorrow (and push back our online 3D printing course by a day sadly).


Day 332: Solid modeling course day 2


Yep, still dealing with printing issues so I have the dual extruder on. Ugh!!!!!! 5 HOURS still left on this print. Why does 3D printing have to be so sloooooooow?!

Well yesterday was day 2 of my solid modeling course, today is my last day of the class. Unfortunately tomorrow is my 3D printing course and I still haven’t got my printer well behaved yet. I guess we get to see all the 3D printing troubles! In any case, let’s talk about how the class went yesterday and what I have planned for today.


Day 331: Solid modeling course day 1


The dual extruder attachment, the current bane of my existence!

Well can’t complain too much about the first course. I’m used to people talking to me so it was an odd feeling talking into a screen with no one talking back. I had a few questions, but mostly the course was on how to think about solid modeling, so maybe not a lot of room for questions?


Day 330: I’m teaching this week!


I love mass effect, so I really thought this was a perfect header image for the post since I am… assuming control!

Well I mentioned it a few days ago, but it’s day one of four today. I’m teaching three courses on solid modeling and one on 3D printing * Shakes fist at 3D printer who keeps giving me problems * and I figure I can talk about how my classes go after the fact, but let’s talk about my prep for these classes so my students get the most out of what I have to teach them.


Day 316: Internships in the pandemic

Distance learning

For those of you not in academia, summertime means we get interns in the lab to learn about how research works in a real-life setting. We typically have them help with things that require basic skills, but lets them see how research really happens. This year, we are doing everything virtually thanks to COVID-19. This is a great thing because it really means we’re doing what we can to stop the spread while still giving students a chance to experience research.


Day 279: Juggling (a lot of) tasks

task juggling

Since the pandemic hit I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I’m doing in school and things that I need to finish. Turns out I’m juggling a lot. I’ve touched on this before in other posts that I have a lot going on, but it never really hit me until recently that I have all these things and none of them seem to be ending. It’s kind of frustrating and extremely anxiety inducing.


Day 278: Teaching… virtually

virtual teaching

We are about to start the big summer internship program at school. I’m actually kind of excited about it. I enjoy teaching and mentoring and this is just as much a chance for me to learn as for the people I work with. However, this year we are doing it all virtually, so there are some growing pains and a lot of challenges that come along with this. Let’s look at what I will be teaching this year and how I’m going to deal with the need to teach virtually.


Day 67: On being a student coordinator


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…)

Day 66: Sometimes we learn more from failure


Not everything can be safely laser cut…

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!


Day 65: Lab Tour photos

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!


Day 64: Lab Tours!



Just hanging out with some exoskeleton friends.

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.


Day 63: The Importance of Science Outreach

skype a scientist

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.


Physics for children – Atom smashing!

Here at Loony Labs, we have lots of friends to help us understand physics! So with that, I am happy to introduce my friend Atom.