Thursday, November 14, 2019

On napping

I've been thinking about the topic of napping lately. As I was reading Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, which shows that high-achievers in the past built naps into their daily schedules, and later Why we sleep by Matthew Walker, which also shows the benefits of naps, I wonder why it is not commonly accepted to get some shut-eye during the day.

My father was a brilliant surgeon, with the workload associated which such a career, and still he found the time each day to return home for lunch and then a nap. I always think of him and how he managed to arrange his time in function of what he needed to perform, and what I could learn from that. And since he become ill when I was a teenager, I need to rely on those memories to try to understand better who he was, and by extent, understand myself better.

Here are the links to the two books I mentioned





And here is a poll I recently ran on the topic. Clearly, the majority naps - mostly every now and then, which seems to strengthen my idea that it should be ok to nap at work during the day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

I am Jack Whitter-Jones, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jack Whitter-Jones. Jack is a PhD Student and part time lecturer at the University of South Wales, where he researches Security Operations which encompasses Cyber Security, Machine Learning and Automation. During term time you can find Jack teaching secure web programming and application security, all of which revolve around the wonderful programming language PHP. While a PhD takes up a substantial amount of time, Jack is currently one of three organisers of BSides Cymru which is the first security conference in Wales. With any remaining down time he may have, he also carries out independent security research focusing on programming, machine learning, reverse engineering and general security topics, all of which can be found at his blog.

General
Current Job: PhD Student/Part-Time lecturer
Current Location: University of South Wales
Current mobile device: Android
Current computer: Macbook Pro

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I am a PhD Student in the brilliant University of South Wales, where my field of research focuses on Security Operations within Cyber Security. The overall aim of my PhD is to use automation and machine learning to improve log analysis as to help reduce stress of cyber operators in their daily operations.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
My Macbook Pro, Mendeley, Visio, Word, Emacs, a Desktop and four screens

What does your workspace setup look like?
I am provided a wonderful desk which holds all the screens that can fit under the sun. Along with two plants and a great desk lamp, that has different modes to reduce the constant white light.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
The best advice that I have been given is by my supervisor - take breaks regularly. A week long break is better than trying to force yourself out of a slump or writers block, which is going to demotivate or set you back by four weeks.
The best advice that I have learnt is, talk to your co-workers and reach out to people within your field. Everyone wants to talk about research and all the cool things that go along with it.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Regular meetings with my supervision team and also employ a project management style to your workload (they were made for this reason).

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Looking at your phone or computer can be tiresome when reading long pdfs and can tether you to your desk. A kindle is the perfect device to go outside and do research.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
It isn’t much of a skill, more so a willingness to speak to anyone, as a PhD can be a lonely experience at times. Speaking to people in your daily life will help with motivation, happiness, building a support network and you meet lots of interesting people along the way.

What do you listen to when you work?
Metal, trance and songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Currently, I am reading: A Guide to Effective Studying and Learning: Practical Strategies from the Science of Learning.

What's your sleep routine like?
I try and get as much as I can, knowing that the end of my PhD is going to be long. But I would recommend anyone that is interested in sleep to check out Matthew Walker.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t know something.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: What is PhD life like in the Netherlands?

This post is part of the series PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: posts written for the Dutch academic career network AcademicTransfer, your go-to resource for all research positions in the Netherlands.

These posts are sponsored by AcademicTransfer, and tailored to those of you interested in pursuing a research position in the Netherlands.

If these posts raise your interest in working as a researcher in the Netherlands, even better - and feel free to fire away any questions you might have on this topic!


Some time ago, a reader asked me: "Eva, what are the opportunities for doing a PhD like in the Netherlands, and how is it different from a PhD in other parts of the world?" That's an excellent question, and perhaps you are not aware of the differences between the PhD in the Netherlands and in other parts of the world.

On the internet and in the academic literature on doctoral studies, we mostly find references to PhD programs in the UK and the USA, with the odd reference to Australia or New Zealand. Few references and blogs deal with the PhD in continental Europa.

Since I did my PhD in the Netherlands and my husband in the USA, we often discussed how very different the programs are. If you are contemplating applying to a PhD position in the Netherlands, it may be good to know what is like, and how it is different from the many descriptions you find online about PhD life in the UK and USA.

Here are a few things that are different in the Netherlands:

1. You are a university employee
In the Netherlands, you either are hired as a university employee (one year contract first and then extension, or four years' contract) or as a scholarship student. Getting hired as a university employee is quite common, and is the typical arrangement when your PhD is funded by a research project. There are many advantages to being hired as a university degree, which include social security, employee protection, building up retirement savings etc. It also means of course that you have to pay taxes on your salary.

2. You apply to a project
The common path in the Netherlands is to apply to an advertised PhD position. This position will only be advertised when the project is already funded. In other words, part of the research and deliverables are already defined before you start. The proposal is already approved and funded. This approach is different from programs where you apply to work with a certain professor, and then propose your project, and defend your proposal.

3. Coursework is very limited
Traditionally, the PhD program in the Netherlands is a research-only program. In recent years, some universities have started doctoral schools, which require you to take a number of courses. Some of these courses are related to research skills, whereas other courses are related to your field of study. However, a number of these courses can be organized as intensive courses or summer schools. As such, your day to day life will still be mostly focused on your research.

4. People tend to treat their PhD like a job
You will see that in the Netherlands, PhD candidates tend to treat their PhD like a job with relatively steady hours. It may also be a requirement that you are in your office between certain blocks of time. University buildings tend to have opening and closing hours. Working around the clock or during odd hours is thus much less common than in the US.

5. Defense after publication of the thesis
In the Netherlands, your committee will approve your thesis, then you send your thesis for publication and printing, and at the very end you will have your defense and graduation ceremony in one event. In the USA and the UK, you finalize your thesis after the defense instead. So, in the Netherlands, the defense is much more of a ceremony and rite of passage (and a very formal one indeed) than in other parts of the world.

6. Your working environment may be partially Dutch-spoken
While the lingua franca of academia in the Netherlands is English, and you will most likely publish your thesis in English and give all academic presentations in English, part of your working environment will be in the Dutch language. When you have funding from industry or the government, it can be to your advantage to speak Dutch if you the only person during meetings who does not speak the language. Try to learn the language early on, so that you can work more easily with partners outside of academia.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I am Zaira Arvelo, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Zaira R. Arvelo Alicea. Zaira told me the following about herself: "Life was also thrilling before becoming a small business owner. I had served as teaching assistant, online curriculum developer, and research assistant at Purdue University and the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez for around 8 years. In addition, I had worked as assistant professor at the English Department’s Teacher Preparation program at the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla for 4 years. All in all, I had accumulated more than a decade of academic publishing, presenting, and grant writing/managing. You could say I had mastered the academic genres coveted by scientific journals and major organizations related to Literacy and Language, my specialty area. But I had SO much more to learn about how the real world communicates, how to reach wider audiences, communicate in lay terms, and connect with non academics. That’s what I’m here to do: help others with their oral and written communication bringing insight from academia and the business world. The mission of Professional Writing and Development is to use language and training to connect people to their goals. I provide writing, style and grammar editing, as well as English-Spanish translation services for academics, professionals, and small to medium sized businesses. Plus, I facilitate online and face-to-face English and professional communication training for busy people. Simply put, I can be your alley and personal editor in dissertation work, manuscripts, professional site, among others."

General:
Current Job: Proprietor
Current Location: Puerto Rico
Current mobile device: Android
Current computer: Chromebook and Windows Desktop

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I am a former full time adjunct assistant professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico’s Teacher Preparation Program who now owns a small business specializing in language services and training. My research has centered on the intersection of literacy and social skills. My research background is in mixed methods research in education.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
As an academic and researcher the Microsoft Office Suite, Zotero Plugin, and research software like Nvivo in a powerful computer were a must. As a business owner, my mobile and Chromebook are my weapons of choice. I need access to my business data 24/7 and the long lasting battery provided by this light laptop. Because I can work from anywhere, I prefer using the Google Suite as it syncs across devices. Since I host a YouTube channel where I teach English pronunciation, I still need a powerful desktop from which to run open access software like OpenShot and Audacity. I also rely on a GoPro, and a desk microphone with amplifier. I have an automated electronic store operated with WooCommerce, a blog in WordPress, and a newsletter with MailChimp.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I used to have a neat setup at my former home office until the wall of 6 feet of water brought by hurricane María drowned it all. Now, I alternate between different spaces in a 1 bedroom apartment. I have a tall bar area where I work from my laptop standing up, a yoga ball and folding table in front of a large glass window where I sit, and a dorm like wooden desk where I keep my PC and recording equipment.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Scheduling and setting boundaries. Take time to separate spots (or blocks) to work towards writing goals, teaching prep, grading, etc. Establish healthy boundaries like no more committee work, no more than x amount of credits, no work or emails during the weekends. Reward yourself for each small victory. No one is going to do it for you.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I used color coded Google Calendar entries, spreadsheets with road maps and red, yellow, green for task status, digital protocols and marketing plans where again I color code the progress of campaigns or products. I also love having interactive checklists like those provided by Google Keep.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Yes, GoPro, desk microphone, and lapel mic for on the road recording.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Versatility to think like an academic but speak and write like a real-world person.

What do you listen to when you work?
Ha! Anything from new age to cumbia and rock del patio in English and Spanish.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Mostly online mainstream news outlets being that I am in Puerto Rico witnessing an unprecedented social and political movement.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?

Extrovert. I can work from anywhere and accept these new challenges of owning a business. Unexpected yet crucial tasks pop up every other day and must be solved nearly immediately. Sometimes they include reaching out to lawyers and accountants, other times they entail doing a pitch with a very tight notice.

What's your sleep routine like?
I NEVER pulled all nighters as an academic. My six to eight hours of sleep are sacred. If broken, is certainly not for academic work but for my business or nonprofit contributions.

What's your work routine like?
Depends on the month and the week. I cater to varied audiences and each one has high and low seasons. For example, March is dissertation season with graduate students and there’s lots of editing to be done. November is admission season and undergrads need mentoring in their documentation package. December is seasonal job palooza and mainstream clients need help with their professional documentation.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Always ask “Why me?” when prompted to do voluntary work. And follow up with “Who else have you approached?”. As a Latina scholar, you need to make sure it is your expertise and not your ethnic background they want.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

I am Hanan Hindy, and This is How I Work

Today, I have the pleasure of inviting Hanan Hindy in the "How I Work" series. Hanan is a second-year PhD student in the Division of Cyber-Security at Abertay University, Scotland, UK. Her research focuses on Deep Learning usage for Cyber-Security, specifically Intrusion Detection Systems. Hanan holds a bachelor with honours (2012) and a masters (2016) degree in Computer Science from the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences at Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. In addition to her research, Hanan has five year teaching experience at various levels and prides herself in helping students explore new subjects in computer science. Check her website here.

General:
Current Job: PhD Student, Division of Cyber-Security, Abertay University
Current Location: Dundee, Scotland
Current mobile device: iPhone 8
Current computer: Dell XPS

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?

I am currently a second year full-time PhD student at Abertay University. I am working on how Machine Learning (ML) can be utilised for building Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). I am interested in applying new ML techniques to special-purpose networks IDS (i.e. IoT, SCADA, etc.) and how they are different from general-purpose ones.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
Python, LaTeX/Overleaf, Email and Calendar app (currently Outlook), GoogleDrive and a Web browser, of course!

What does your workspace setup look like?
I usually have my laptop side-by-side with my notebook(s) and different colour pens and highlighters. Sometimes I use colour-codes but just using different pens help me concentrate. My headphone is a plus.
I tend to work from the University Graduate School office.



What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Keeping a work routine, not in a bad way but fixing working hours, breaks, etc. I strongly believe in this quote "Long-term consistency trumps short term intensity"

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
To-do list, sometimes pen and paper (it feels good to strike off things that are finished)

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Generally, perseverance that is led by the motivation of having an impact.
In terms of teaching, having the ability to communicate the same piece of information to different learning styles.

What do you listen to when you work?

It depends, sometimes silence is the key to concentration but my playlist has a variety of classical and instrumental music. When I miss home, I either listen to an Egyptian radio stream or Arabic hymns.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

A mix of both, I think; which is helpful to keep going. My introvert side helps me stay focused and get the work done with minimal distractions, while my extrovert side recharges my energy and keeps my sanity.

What's your sleep routine like?

I don't have a fixed routine, but I don’t sleep before midnight and usually wake-up by 8.

What's your work routine like?
I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I tend not to work over weekends, however, when I’m too excited to finish something I do work late evenings and/or weekends.

What's the best advice you ever received?

Appreciate your smallest achievements

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Two books on Load Testing of Bridges

I published two books as an editor on the topic of Load Testing of Bridges: Load Testing of Bridges: Current Practice and Diagnostic Load Testing and Load Testing of Bridges: Proof Load Testing and the Future of Load Testing.

Besides the work involved with contacting all authors and making sure everything gets submitted on time, I also contributed as an author to about half of all chapters in these two books. It's been a long process (three years in total!), but I'm quite happy with the final product - and extremely grateful to all authors who dedicated time and effort to writing their chapters!

To give you an idea of the breadth of these volumes, I am sharing here the table of contents of the two books:
Part I Background to Bridge Load Testing

Chapter 1 Introduction
Eva O. L. Lantsoght
1.1 Background
1.2 Scope of application
1.3 Aim of this book
1.4 Outline of this book

Chapter 2 History of Load Testing of Bridges
Mohamed K. ElBatanouny, Gregor Schacht and Guido Bolle
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Bridge load testing in Europe
2.3 Bridge load testing in North America
2.4 The potential of load testing for the evaluation of existing structures
2.5 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 3 Current Codes and Guidelines
Eva O. L. Lantsoght
3.1 Introduction
3.2 German guidelines
3.3 British guidelines
3.4 Irish guidelines
3.5 Guidelines in the United States
3.6 French guidelines
3.7 Czech Republic and Slovakia
3.8 Spanish guidelines
3.9 Other countries
3.10 Current developments
3.11 Discussion
3.12 Summary
References

Part II Preparation, Execution, and Post-Processing of Load Tests on Bridges

Chapter 4 General Considerations
Eva O. L. Lantsoght and Jacob W. Schmidt
4.1 Initial considerations
4.2 Types of load tests, and which type of load test to select
4.3 When to load test a bridge, and when not to load test
4.4 Structure type considerations
4.5 Safety requirements during load testing
4.6 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 5 Preparation of Load Tests
Eva O. L. Lantsoght and Jacob W. Schmidt
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Determination of test objectives
5.3 Bridge inspection
5.4 Preliminary calculations and development of finite element model
5.5 Planning and preparation of load test
5.6 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 6 General Considerations for the Execution of Load Tests
Eva O. L. Lantsoght and Jacob W. Schmidt
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Loading equipment
6.3 Measurement equipment
6.4 Practical aspects of execution
6.5 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 7 Post-Processing and Bridge Assessment
Eva O. L. Lantsoght and Jacob W. Schmidt
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Post-processing of measurement data
7.3 Updating finite element model with measurement data
7.4 Bridge assessment
7.5 Formulation of recommendations for maintenance or operation
7.6 Recommendations for reporting of load tests
7.7 Summary and conclusions
References 151

Part III Diagnostic Load Testing of Bridges

Chapter 8 Methodology for Diagnostic Load Testing
Eva O. L. Lantsoght, Jonathan Bonifaz, Telmo A. Sanchez and Devin K. Harris
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Preparation of diagnostic load tests
8.3 Procedures for the execution of diagnostic load testing
8.4 Processing diagnostic load testing results
8.5 Evaluation of diagnostic load testing results
8.6 Summary and conclusions
References
Appendix: Determination of Experimental Rating Factor According to Barker

Chapter 9 Example Field Test to Load Rate a Prestressed Concrete Bridge
Eli S. Hernandez and John J. Myers
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Sample bridge description
9.3 Bridge instrumentation plan
9.4 Diagnostic load test program
9.5 Test results
9.6 Girder distribution factors
9.7 Load rating of Bridge A7957 by field load testing
9.8 Recommendations
9.9 Summary
References

Chapter 10 Example Load Test: Diagnostic Testing of a Concrete Bridge with a Large Skew Angle
Mauricio Diaz Arancibia and Pinar Okumus
10.1 Summary
10.2 Characteristics of the bridge tested
10.3 Goals of load testing
10.4 Preliminary analytical model
10.5 Coordination of the load test
10.6 Instrumentation plan
10.7 Data acquisition
10.8 Loading
10.9 Planning and scheduling
10.10 Redundancy and repeatability
10.11 Results
10.12 Conclusions and recommendations
Ackowledgements
References

Chapter 11 Diagnostic Load Testing of Bridges – Background and Examples of Application
Piotr Olaszek and Joan R. Casas
11.1 Background
11.2 Examples of diagnostic load testing
11.3 Conclusions and recommendations for practice
References

Chapter 12 Field Testing of Pedestrian Bridges
Darius Bačinskas, Ronaldas Jakubovskis and Arturas Kilikevičius
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Preparation for testing
12.3 Organization of the tests
12.4 Analysis of test results
12.5 Theoretical modeling of tested bridge
12.6 Concluding remarks
Acknowledgments
References

-----

Part I Proof Load Testing of Bridges

Chapter 1 Methodology for Proof Load Testing
Eva O. L. Lantsoght
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Determination of target proof load
1.3 Procedures for proof load testing
1.4 Processing of proof load testing results
1.5 Bridge assessment based on proof load tests
1.6 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 2 Load Rating of Prestressed Concrete Bridges without Design Plans by Nondestructive Field Testing
David V. Jauregui, Brad D. Weldon, and Carlos V. Aguilar
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Inspection and evaluation procedures
2.3 Case studies
2.4 Conclusions
References

Chapter 3 Example of Proof Load Testing from Europe
Eva O. L. Lantsoght, Dick A. Hordijk, Rutger T. Koekkoek, and Cor van der Veen
3.1 Introduction to viaduct Zijlweg
3.2 Preparation of proof load test
3.3 Execution of proof load test
3.4 Post-processing and rating
3.5 Summary and conclusions
Acknowledgments
References

Part II Testing of Buildings

Chapter 4 Load Testing of Concrete Building Constructions
Gregor Schacht, Guido Bolle, and Steffen Marx
4.1 Historical development of load testing in Europe
4.2 Load testing of existing concrete building constructions
4.3 New developments
4.4 Practical recommendations
4.5 Summary and conclusions
References

Part III Advances in Measurement Techniques for Load Testing

Chapter 5 Digital Image and Video-Based Measurements
Mohamad Alipour, Ali Shariati, Thomas Schumacher, Devin K. Harris, and C. J. Riley
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Digital image correlation (DIC) for deformation measurements
5.3 Eulerian virtual visual sensors (VVS) for natural frequency measurements
5.4 Recommendations for practice
5.5 Summary and conclusions
5.6 Outlook and future trends
Acknowledgments
References

Chapter 6 Acoustic Emission Measurements for Load Testing
Mohamed ElBatanouny, Rafal Anay, Marwa A. Abdelrahman, and Paul Ziehl
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Acoustic emission–based damage identification
6.3 Source location during load tests
6.4 Discussion and recommendations for field applications
References

Chapter 7 Fiber Optics for Load Testing
Joan R. Casas, António Barrias, Gerardo Rodriguez Gutiérrez, and Sergi Villalba
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Distributed optical fibers in load testing
7.3 Conclusions
Acknowledgments
References

Chapter 8 Deflection Measurement on Bridges by Radar Techniques
Carmelo Gentile
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Radar technology and the microwave interferometer
8.3 Accuracy and validation of the radar technique
8.4 Static and dynamic tests of a steel-composite bridge
8.5 A challenging application: structural health monitoring of stay cables
8.6 Summary
Acknowledgments
References

Part IV Load Testing in the Framework of Reliability-Based Decision-Making and Bridge Management Decisions

Chapter 9 Reliability-Based Analysis and Life-Cycle Management of Load Tests
Dan M. Frangopol, David Y. Yang, Eva O. L. Lantsoght, and Raphael D. J. M. Steenbergen
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Influence of load testing on reliability index
9.3 Required target load for updating reliability index
9.4 Systems reliability considerations
9.5 Life-cycle cost considerations
9.6 Summary and conclusions
References

Chapter 10 Determination of Remaining Service Life of Reinforced Concrete Bridge Structures in Corrosive Environments after Load Testing
Dimitri V. Val and Mark G. Stewart
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Deterioration of RC structures in corrosive environments
10.3 Reliability-based approach to structural assessment
10.4 Corrosion initiation modeling
10.5 Corrosion propagation modeling
10.6 Effect of spatial variability on corrosion initiation and propagation
10.7 Influence of climate change
10.8 Illustrative examples
10.9 Summary
References 328

Chapter 11 Load Testing as Part of Bridge Management in Sweden
Lennart Elfgren, Bjorn Täljsten, and Thomas Blanksvärd
11.1 Introduction
11.2 History
11.3 Present practice
11.4 Future
11.5 Conclusions
Acknowledgments
References

Chapter 12 Load Testing as Part of Bridge Management in the Netherlands
Ane de Boer
12.1 Introduction
12.2 Overview of load tests on existing structures
12.3 Inspections and re-examination
12.4 Conclusions and outlook
References

Part V Conclusions and Outlook

Chaper 13 Conclusions and Outlook
Eva O. L. Lantsoght
13.1 Current body of knowledge on load testing
13.2 Current research and open research questions
13.3 Conclusions and practical recommendations

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I am Clayton Mansel, and This is How I Work

Today, I am interviewing Clayton Mansel, an undergraduate student in molecular biology, in the "How I Work" series. Next summer, he plans to apply to MD/PhD programs and pursue a career as a pediatric neurologist. He's also a writer at student-scientist.com where he writes about the tools he uses, his experience as a budding scientist, and science in general. In his free time, Clayton enjoys reading, photography, and playing the french horn.

Current Job: Student
Current Location: Kansas City, MO
Current mobile device: iPhone 7
Current computer: MacBook Pro 13 inch

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I go to school at a small liberal arts college where I have the opportunity to lead research projects on my own. In the lab, I study the molecular mechanisms of tributyltin-mediated neurodegeneration in mouse enteric neurons.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
There are so many! On my Mac, I use DEVONthink as an ‘everything bucket’ where I store all types of files and organize them using folders and tags. My favorite feature is that it automatically makes every PDF (e.g., research articles) fully searchable and uses AI to categorize and contextualize them. For writing papers, MindNode 6 is my must-have app where I take notes, organize my thoughts, and build a mind map for my paper. For collaboration, Notion has proven to be crucial to my lab’s workflow as we organize our tasks and lab calendar.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Find long chunks of time for focus without distractions. For me, it usually takes 30 min without distractions before I even begin to be productive and do meaningful work. Cal Newport wrote about this in his book ‘Deep Work’.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I use Things 3 to organize my tasks and projects. But often I will also just write a little ‘hit list’ at the end of the day on sticky note and stick it to my computer monitor to remind me of my next steps the next day. For long term goals and my mission/values, I use Notion which gives me a blank slate to think carefully about what I am doing and where I am going.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
I use an iPad Pro that my school gives every student. I really enjoy it for taking digital notes and reading/marking up PDFs. I also use apps like Concepts which provides an infinite canvas—great for brainstorming. I think the iPad is a great companion device for students, but still not as important as a phone and computer.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?

My ability to use technology to make myself more efficient and effective. I have learned over the years how to make technology work for me, not against me, and that is something that has differentiated myself as an academic. As one example, I took the time to learn every feature in Apple’s excellent Keynote (like powerpoint) application, and now when I do presentations, people are always impressed and engaged and ask me how I made certain elements. When it comes to technology, I am usually one step ahead of everyone. (Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about math and statistics!)

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I am currently reading ‘Economics for the Common Good’ by Nobel Prize winner Jean Tirole. To find the time, I use a Kindle and the Kindle app because I believe it greatly reduces the friction to reading. With the Kindle, I can highlight and take notes and purchase and download new books in seconds. I put the Kindle app on the home screen of my iPhone, and whenever I have a few minutes, I’ll just pull out whichever book I’m reading and my progress is automatically synced across devices. One of my favorite facts is that reading just 30 minutes a day equates to over 1,000 books read in an average person’s lifetime—I want to die having read 1,000 books!

What's the best advice you ever received?
I don’t know about best ever received, but advice that has really helped me this summer was ‘you can’t do anything wrong’. This advice has really given me the confidence to try new things at the bench and take risks in my research. Mistakes are completely fine and pave the way to success.
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