For the first time in 18 months, I was back in a classroom today.
I forgot the anticipation of walking into a ..
How to find a research problem in a haystack of papers
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?
Why I choose to be a professor at Carnegie Mellon
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.
The spirit of YinzCam. What drove us then. What drives us now.
12 years ago, I walked into a hockey arena to work, and my life changed. The Pittsburgh Penguins had given us a chance to try out a new research idea at their arena, and YinzCam was born. I believe that we are as scrappy as we were when we started, as hungry, as enthusiastic, and […]
20 practical ways to make the most out of your time on campus
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.
How to give a great presentation in the Jurassic Park style
You’re asked to give a research talk, but you’re stuck for inspiration when putting together your slides. Your want your talk to engage, entertain, and inspire.
The best PhDs open doors for more PhDs
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 […]
A Ph.D. Pitch Deck
Because you’re always selling your Ph.D., whether you know it or not.
Sell people on your credibility before you sell them on your ideas
Selling gets a bad rap. Most people view selling as manipulating or pressuring people with words. The phrase “I’m not sold on it” says it right there. You feel you’re being imposed or put upon. Selling is about communicating well. Selling is about having credibility with your audience so that your communication goes over well. […]
10 steps to start and maintain an evergreen literature survey
“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 […]
A Great Paper Abstract in 5 Sentences
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 […]
Writing a research paper is like training for a marathon
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 […]
A grad-school essay in 4 acts, a reviewer’s perspective
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 […]
Zoom me up, Scotty
100 students, 5 time zones, 10,000 miles apart. This summer,
I want to be a coach, not an advice monster
A good part of my job involves giving advice on a daily basis. As a professor,
Learning to think inside the box (of scientific assumptions)
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 your research hands you lemons
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 […]
Who carries your paper into the room where decisions get made?
Who carries your paper into the room? Today, I listened to a remarkable TED talk from Carla Harris on How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work. There’s no question that you want to have a mentor for your professional life. A mentor tells you the good, the bad, the […]
A Ph.D. student’s manual: The tactical, the strategic, the emotional
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.