So for ay undergrads reading this, I have some sage advice. If you are planning on asking your professor for a letter of recommendation, try to make sure your professor KNOWS WHO YOU ARE. Simply showing up out of the blue towards the end of the semester and then asking for a letter for Med School/Internships/Study Abroad/ Fellowships/Circus School (really!), etc. will not earn you a good letter if I don't know who you are. At most I can say you did well in my class, maybe asked a few questions, took other challenging courses and that's about it. That's not going to get you the Fullbright. It may seem that after spending a semester listening to me blather on about great moments in science or whatever you feel like you know me, you know how I think, maybe identify with how I think, much like you would with an author in a book. But that doesn't mean I know YOU. If you want that to happen, you need to participate in class and more importantly come to office hours. That's what they're for, to get to know your professors better and get them to know you. Office hours aren't just for asking for clarification of the material, although they can be that too, so take advantage of a good opportunity to get individual attention from you prof, and to make sure that when you ask them for a letter he or she will have something nice and unique to say about you.
Archive for: April, 2013
So I was getting ready to write a depressing post on the tedium of writing and not getting grants and blah, blah, blabbity blah, when I realized that maybe what folks need to read is a good reminder about why science is a great job. So let me tell you about last Thursday. In the morning I gave the last lecture of the semester for my class, and afterwards got some nice thank-yous from the students saying they learned a lot, that they wanted to work in my lab, take my other classes, etc. Afterwards I read some papers from a bigwig that was visiting the department and then met with said bigwig. We had a nice chat and argued about one of his recent papers. Not angrily but definitely heartily. Then an undergrad who's visiting from Hong Kong for the semester and had been working in my lab presented her data in lab meeting and had really promising cool results. Too bad she has to return to Hong Kong, the project will have to be continued without her. Then I reanalyzed the data for a rotation student and actually found that she may have a result (this is after she had been feelin' down that her rotation project had been a waste) and then had a good conversation with her about how to follow up and why she didn't see the result initially and how it fit nicely with the data presented in lab meeting. She seemed much more cheered-up, I hope she stays in my lab even if the result ultimately doesn't pan out because she is great. Then I went to the bigwig's seminar which was awesome and was glad to hear others brought the same objections I had afterwards. I then had a good discussion about the seminar with a colleague I seldom get to see but that I really like. Finally, I was chillin' in my office packing up when my other grad student wanted to talk about his experiments. So we did some statistics on his data and also found he had even cooler results, which led to another good conversation. All in all a fun day spent discussing, analyzing, teaching and thinking about science with intelligent folks. And that is why on days like this I really like my job. Sure, it's rewarding to publish papers and get grants, but it's really the day to day aspects of the job that can really make it all worth it.
PSA: When sending emails to your entire lab, make sure you don't accidentally use your secret blog email account. Presumably they are all now reading my blog, so hi guys!!