Monday, July 31, 2017

Insults to a Young Professor

Over the past few weeks I have been working vigorously with my students. These are most MS and PhD students and I have guiding them through various levels of academic research and publishing according to their stage of education.

But for some reason I keep on getting insulted. Few are the experts from some of the "insults" that I have had in the past few weeks.

I know youngling can be clueless - and they might do it in ignorance - and they might not mean it.

That does not mean that it is not an insults - or that it is not hurtful - especially since I care about my students a lot.

Observation 1

PhD student 1 is doing a summer research at a prestigious national lab. The lab does the same kind of work in the same subfield. I know the PI's work and have criticized it in the grant proposals. I have a prestigious career award in that subfield now (aka I am known in the sub field and have recived multiple grants in this sub field).

 -- student: I am sure that the PI in that national lab does not know about you or your work but I think we should collaborate with them (which is fine with me but I am sure you got into the national lab summer program just because of my name. Coz you are a PhD student with 1 year of experience and no one knows you).

-- The same student now postponed a tele conference meeting two times telling me that he is busy traveling. Today I got his email saying that I can call him today since he has time today (without actually thinking or acknowledging that I might be tensy bit busy?)

Observation 2

When a new PhD student come in I generally introduce the student to a new subfield; show them the ropes and then give them 1 or 2 problems that they can work on and publish. This helps get the things running for them and keeps them motivated.

After they have worked on 2 or so sub-problems I ask them to come up with a 3rd problem (on their own) and then come up with a solution to such a problem. Meanwhile, I am their sounding board.

Today one of them came and told me she wants to work on a 3rd problem and want me to tell it to her. I told her that I gave you 2 problems (that she has not made any progress on and have not published anything) and you need to show progress. After that you will come up with the 3rd problem and I will help you.

Next thing she tells me is as follows "But I came up with the 2 problems and will come up with their solutions as well that you are referring to...".

She didn't knew...when she started with me that the particular sub-field existed. And ofcourse I had thought about the 2 problems that I "gave" her for a long time before I decided to put in MY "time", MY "resources", MY "money" and MY "energy" in to this.

Observation 3

This PhD students is about to graduate. He just told me: "that your name does not carry any weight when it comes to getting a paper published. You are young and not like other senior people ..."
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Yes, I am young and I know that. But I am well accomplished in my field and have at least 10 years of research experience more than any of these PhD students. I have worked very very hard to reach this place.

Yes, I am young but I do deserve respect.

Yes, I am young and I demand respect.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Making a difference

I have been thinking lately of how to make a difference. You know in terms of research and its applications. I have been thinking how do people make a difference. For example in my field there is a professor who has over 22000 citations (yes you read it right) for a single paper. The tool described in the paper is novel and seems to work fine.

However,...

I also know that there are other tools in the same field that were novel (in their own time) and are conceptually sound and seems to work. So what gives?

I think some people can make such a difference which is also noticeable due to the following combination of circumstances. Some in their control and some not so much

1) Choice of a problem and how you approach it: Probably one of the most important factors. You can give two different people two different problems and they will come up with two different solutions. One solution could be more elegant than the other giving it an edge. Although the second solution by a second person would probably give a similar result.

2) Timing: The timing of a particular produce, algorithm or mathematical model is very important. If you are too early; people wont recognize the importance. If you are too late; people will complain that it is not novel anymore.

3) Marketability. How well you can market the product or your paper or your approach. Traditionally it has been through giving talks. Now it seems to be through (social media?) videos etc. (more on this later)

4) Venue of your publication: I think this used to be more relevant in the past. Now with access to internet  and all the publications having all  paper on line it might not matter much. Although I know people who map the credibility of the paper to the venue of the publication (may be partially true but not always).

5) what else. I am not sure but I am curious.

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Social media. I am trying come up with strategies to ramp up my marketing of my approaches. Social media (twitter), videos (you tube) and other? tricks are being thought about. I am not sure which but I am going to do some of them. I think it is a good idea (apart from giving talks that I have not given for quite some time now). All the people that I know in my field are recognizable to me because of their online presence and not because I saw them giving a talk some where. I think this gives a good indication of how to market your "stuff" in the future :P