Thursday, May 29, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

Yes I am more busy in the summers than in my spring (first) semester ;)

Anyway, I am working on two related grants for two different federal agencies. One of the grant is a colloboration between two different insitutes so weekly meeting and drafts are flying to-and-fro.

I am working on getting my lab set up and going. This requires a lot of furniture (it is a big ass space) and netwoking and wiring and everything in between. This takes a lot time. Good thing is I have help of two other senior faculty who are very supportive.

I am also working on getting students admitted, funded and advised. So far I am able to get one student admitted into our PhD program (and hopefully will find funding for him), another student who wants to work with me (and is already admitted and funded) but has not done anything. There are two other students who have shown interest in working with me. We will see how that goes but it takes a lot of effort to recruit students.

On the personal front I had to fight with my landlord (and threatened to sue her) to get my deposit money back. She caved and will be receiving the sweet check soon. It was nerve wrecking and I had to supply additional duty cycles of my brain to think about this shit.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Plagiarizing student

I had a (potential) student who contacted me for a funded-PhD position in my new lab. He contacted me and sent me his CV.

On paper the student seemed to be a good student. He had published several papers, is a MS student in a university and is a lecturer in a university. Also the student is from a third-world country.

Looking at the CV I was impressed to see his publication record and associated activities. Note that I am originally from a third-world country so I know how challenging it is to conduct research in countries who lack expertise, resources etc for doing research.

I interviewed the student online, asked him questions about research, teaching and other activities. I was about to recommend him for the admission and give him funding in my group.

I had read his papers with one paper as a first author and some as middle authors. Before I recommend him for admission, I asked him for his MS thesis so that I can read what he has done on his thesis and have a better idea about what he has really done.

All of the chapter (5 out of 6) chapters of his MS thesis were plagiarized copied verbatim from various sources.

I confronted him about the plagrized content but he was adamant that he has never done it. Although the evidance suggests otherwise. I wanted to give this guy benefit of the doubt (you know like he was not informed/trained properly etc.) but I came from a similar third-world country; had a paper published in a small online community journal and knew about plagiarism. I was only an undergrad.

I do not want to give this guy a position in my group since I do not want to create problems for me or the group/department. I want to go further and block this guy from getting admitted in the department altogether. I am not sure if the second step would be harsh.

How would you deal with the situation?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Starting my teaching career (for undergrad classes)

I have to teach an undergraduate class in the Fall. The number of students are going to be around 30. The subject that I will teach is something that I havent looked at for a couple of years. So I will have to do some revamp of my knowledge.

I have taken the preemptive strike strategy i.e. I will try to complete and prepare all of my lectures in the summers; before the actual Fall semester starts.

I like to teach using slides (at least that is what I think I like) so I have started preparing my slides by keeping the slides that come with the book for the instructor. However the slides are aweful and I have to fill them up with information and other cartoons that will help me explain the material to the class.

Lets see how it goes. I am hoping that if I have completed all my lectures before the semester, I will have enough time to submit my grants at the same pace as now and be able to teach by spending less time on lecture preparation. I hope the strategy works well or this will be a waste of time.