Your professor hands you a haystack of research papers, and asks you to go “find a research problem so you can work on it.”
How do you get started?
19 years after I first set foot on the Carnegie Mellon campus to start my journey as a professor, I choose to do this job because of one thing — the students.
A university is a special place of unparalleled energy, optimism, risk-taking, ideas, debates, and learning. It’s a place to find what you love, to find what you’re great at, and to find a way to combine the two.
A very little key will open a very heavy door. ― Charles Dickens I was a third-year PhD student scrolling through the online publication of a systems conference, looking for papers to read. I was stopped in my tracks by the title of a paper that sounded exactly like my PhD thesis topic. Anxious but […]
Because you’re always selling your Ph.D., whether you know it or not.
“How’s your literature survey coming along?” I was a first-year graduate student, when a fourth-year Ph.D. student asked me this question at a weekly meeting. I had no clue what a “literature survey” was. After asking around, I learned that “literature survey” was research speak for “Go find out everything others have done in your […]
Your abstract is the trailer to the movie that is your paper. The abstract. The hurried after-thought to the paper you just finished writing. You dash off a few rambling words, just minutes before you hit “Submit” to ship your paper off for review to a conference or a journal. Here’s the rub. Your after-thought […]
You can’t cram all of your training mileage in at the end. The publication deadline looms. You open up your laptop, create a blank new document, but you don’t know where to start. I’ve been there. As a first-year Ph.D. student. I was paralyzed with anxiety the first few times I had to write a […]
LinkedIn is the way that employers scout potential future employees, and it’s where employees can scout potential future bosses. It’s where a university’s alumni network lives. It’s where you can find future investors for your startup ideas. It’s where you can ask someone for introductions to career sponsors or mentors. It’s a giant global social resume database.
As a reviewer of over 400 scientific papers for conferences/journals, I love a well-written paper. The words sound right, the arguments feel logical, the sentences flow into each other at the right reading pace,
Your ideas are not bad. They are just not ready YET. I regret to inform you that your paper was not accepted. Sitting at my research-lab desk as a 2nd Year Ph.D. student, I had my first taste of a paper-rejection email. I sat and stared at my computer screen, hoping the words would somehow […]
I review dozens of grad-school applications every year, and the essay (also known as a statement of purpose, or a personal statement) can make an application — and the candidate — stand out. If you’re applying to grad school, try to structure your essay to make it memorable, and to make it easier for the […]
100 students, 5 time zones, 10,000 miles apart. This summer,
Behind every research result is a box of assumptions. That box is a set of constraints for your research. These constraints breed creativity. It’s important to learn to think creatively inside that box, instead of worrying about the box, the size of the box, or that the box even exists. View the box of assumptions […]
When you try something in research and it doesn’t work out, when you hit a research dead-end, tell the world. Shout it out from the rooftops. Write the paper you wish you had read before you went down the wrong path. Get a publication out of your research dead-end. Write about the negative result. Write […]
What I would tell my younger Ph.D. self about how to handle the day-to-day aspects, the longer-term aspects, and the emotional aspects of a Ph.D. career.