Becoming a PI

There are three important letters that you add to your name when you finish your Ph.D. But there are two other letters that are also important to researchers as they begin their careers: P.I. The Principal Investigator is the person in charge of a research project and it signifies the next step in your career, where a funding agency has selected your research proposal, using a panel of your peers in most cases, as worthy of gaining a substantial amount of external support. It is basically a sign that other people (you know, people who aren’t trying to help you graduate) think that your work is important and interesting. It’s a really good thing and the first time you become a P.I. is an important career milestone.
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An Ode to Pizza

O! great circular form;
a marriage of dough and cheese
of sauce and herbs and many things
depending on what we please.

You do not care the circumstances
or request a type of dress.
Thou are appropriate at all times
and only occasionally make a mess.

From fires in a gourmet brick oven or
a simple toaster muffin made,
you always will delight my tongue
and your flavors seldom fade.

I do not wish to argue
about the merits of pineapple;
perhaps it’s best to stick to cheese
and avoid a minor grapple.

A simple margherita
will usually do the trick,
but once in a while a fancy meat
becomes a better pick.

Some prefer a deeper crust
or a giant folding slice.
But me, I’m happy with all kinds
to satisfy my vice.

O pizza! O pizza!
You are the perfect food:
Adaptable and changeable;
the best, I must conclude.

Red Rocks

Last summer, when I was in Boulder for the ICLS conference, I stayed a couple extra days to hang out with some friends. On a seriously perfect and beautiful day, Carrie, her dog Scout, and I went hiking in Red Rocks. Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheater and recreation area near Denver with lots of hiking and cool things to do (in addition to listening to awesome music).
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What is evidence? Thinking about Serial and science

What is evidence? In science, usually we think of evidence as a collection of the observations, measurements, and results of data analysis from an investigation of a phenomenon. But I think evidence isn’t just a set of these measurements. In order for it to be evidence and not just data, there also needs to be information about its relevance and appropriateness to answering a question or a claim. You can think of good evidence (data that was collected in a careful and thoughtful way and that supports your claim) or bad evidence (sloppily collected data, incomplete data, and/or data that doesn’t support your claim).

The podcast Serial came up during one of my research meetings today. We were talking through a transcript of a middle school science classroom and debating whether or not to apply one of codes to a particular utterance the teacher made. The topic of evidence was brought up and it made me think of Serial and how evidence is discussed on the show and how it is similar in a lot of ways to how we want students to talk about evidence in their science classes.
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Zelda Speed Runs

Over the summer I got really interested in video game speed runs. Specifically speed runs of Legend of Zelda games. I had known that this was a thing, but it had never caught my fascination before. Speed running, for those of you not familiar, is when you try to play a game as fast as possible. In many ways this is analogous to high score records in other video games (this is especially true with older arcade games – think of the documentary King of Kong about Donkey Kong players), but since Zelda games don’t have a score, players instead compete to see who can complete the game the fastest. Before I started watching speed runs, I had an impression that the players might be similar to those depicted in the King of Kong movie: obsessed, secretive, and ultra-competitive. But I found something very different.

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Yesterday I spent all day at Disneyland (and California Adventure) with my brother and my two oldest cousins (on my mom’s side of the family). We had SO MUCH FUN. I am so completely exhausted today and my entire body hurts but it was totally worth it. (I also broke my one-day FitBit record yesterday and got 30,000 steps – about 13 miles.) Somehow, with a little bit of planning and a lot of luck and endurance, we were able to execute a nearly perfect Disneyland day. And this is saying something, especially since we went on a Saturday which was also the same day as a 5k/half-marathon at the park and the first weekend of the winter/holiday decorations (and also we got a slow start to the day). We went on 23 rides. That is a lot. We gamed the system a bit, took full advantage of the FastPasses, and were quick and nimble with our decision making.

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I flew down to LA today (SJC -> BUR is the only way to go in my opinion) and spent part of the afternoon watching Jeopardy! with my dad. We got all caught up on this week’s Tournament of Champions and it reminded me of when we used to watch it together. I told him that we used to have our own competitions at home and he would pay me ten cents for every answer that I got right before him. He doesn’t remember this at all. Well, I remember it and it instilled in me a love of trivia and also trivia competitions.

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some thoughts on Interstellar

So I went to go see Interstellar tonight. Oh, SPOILERS throughout, so only read on if you don’t plan on seeing it or don’t care too much about that kind of thing. I normally hate spoilers, but I went into this with the main conceit spoiled and I don’t think it really ruined it, per se. In general, I have really mixed feelings about the movie. There were parts I liked and parts that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at. And it was really long.
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