Monday, April 30, 2012

Summer project management

This summer Sam and I are going to be in charge of FIVE full-time student interns! And one part-timer! For 14 weeks! Oh my. I've just realized this basically means I'm teaching a six-student seminar course this summer since we'll be reading and discussing literature related to their work. This has snuck up on us and we still have a lot to plan.

With that in mind, I have been considering some kind of goal tracking or project management software. Perhaps something like GoalsOnTrack (personal goal tracking) or Smartsheet (project management). I like the idea of a personal goal tracker for my dissertation, but I'm wondering if a multi-user project management thing might be more useful for keeping track of goals and deadlines this summer with the students. Has anyone used any software like this? If so, what did you use and what did you use it for? What did you like/dislike about it?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coconut bait

Coconuts are cheap in Ukenzagapia, so it was a favorite high-calorie field snack. I'd crack them open and then use a butter knife to chip out pieces of coconut. I love coconut, but I don't ever buy them whole here in Big City. It just feels... out of place.

Today I went to an event to be recognized for a modest award. I didn't know anyone else at the event but I hung around afterwards for the food. I had a small lunch, and I'm a real sucker for cheese and crackers. They had a nice spread of fruit, too, and there in the center of the fruit plate was a big chunk of coconut in the shell as garnish. I really, really wanted to eat it.

I decided that eating the garnish would be kind of weird (and awkward without a knife), so I stood around eating my heaping plate of goodies, hoping no one else would take the coconut so I could pick it up on my way out. Through little effort of my own, I started talking to two other awardees before I could finish my food and split. One thing led to another, and I ended up in conversation with a computer science graduate student. Just yesterday I hit a wall (right at the beginning) trying to figure out how to use a Perl script to manage metadata (translation: simple computer science problem). This student is working on a very similar method in Python, and will almost surely be able to help me. All because I wanted some coconut.

There have been many times in grad school when good things have come from "just showing up", but in this case it took some bait to make me stick around.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Missed opportunity

Herb's lab had a visiting scientist for many months. However, their spoken English was poor. I think it this situation, Herb should have insisted, as part of the arrangement, that the person also take intensive conversational English courses while here. The person was very bright and had great ideas, but their limited English hindered collaboration and even just regular lab meetings sometimes. It seems like a missed opportunity for Herb, the visiting scientist, and the lab.

*This person came with funding from their home country, so it was a situation with low financial investment for Herb.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Papers papers papers

In the past week and I half the following things happened:
- provisional acceptance of a little natural history paper!
-submitted a paper about my interdisciplinary project.
-got a "revise & resubmit" answer on the paper that is on its 4th attempt!

The changes for the first paper are very small things. Totally doable. The other paper has some bigger issues to deal with, but all of the feedback was reasonable. Sam and I will have to discuss how to approach some of the revisions, but he thinks it will be accepted after we make these careful changes.

All very exciting events. Here's hoping I get my name out there on one of these things in 2012!