Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CRA-W Workshops bring interesting perspectives on research

The CRA-W tracks at GHC have been really interesting so far. I went to the first one of the Early Career Scientist track, where the top was how to start your own research lab. There was a speaker who works in industry research, a speaker from a research university, and a speaker from a primarily undergraduate institution. They really embrace active learning in the panel, as they gave us 2 minutes exercises throughout the panel: define what your agenda is, define your short medium and long-term goals, and define actions you can take toward those goals. What a great way to take teaching skills and bring them to a conference!

The second session I attended was in the grad track, with a focus on how to do networking. I really enjoyed the stories of how to meet the right people. The third session was also in the grad track, on how to do good research. I was actually surprised that much of this session was geared toward early grad students as opposed to those about to graduate. However, a lot of the advice seems to be relevant. For instance, the fact that you should find an interesting and exciting research area and try to figure out where the next big thing is can not only guide your thesis, but also your entire career. Also, you've got to enjoy what you're doing! I think that's always good advice to remind early researchers of from time to time.

Later in the session there was more discussion on how to do research after the phd. Did you know that HP Labs created color match technology where you can match your foundation color to your face by sending a photo through your mobile phone to an HP server? What an interesting project! The person who worked on this research is a networking researcher who built a collaborative team to solve the problem as presented by a cosmetics company. How unexpected, but a great example of how you can take your research knowledge and apply it in an interesting collaboration.

Ending thought: If you already know how to solve it, it's not research. You've got to be willing to go out there and claim you can solve a problem you aren't sure you can do! No one is perfect, but you'll have your expertise and should use it! "Confidence does not require perfection," always keep that in mind!
What advice do you have about how to choose your research topic after getting your phd?

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