Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why are we here?

One of my professor took me by surprise today and wrote, "Why are we here?" on the whiteboard at the start of class.  The discussion that insued was very refreshing.  We talked about what our purposes are in Data Methods Graph Representation are specifically but also got into one of Steve (the professor) 's favorite things--Prelims.  I think he might have just come from a prelim, I'm not sure.  Prelims are when your PhD committee members assess that you have enough knowledge of what you are doing and what has been done in your particular realm to be in the PhD program.  They do this by asking you probing questions.

Steve drew a dot on the whiteboard at this point and labeled it 'You.'  The whiteboard, he explained, was knowldege.  And then he drew a little cross marks to indicate the questions that different professors would ask you in order to draw a shape around the 'You' according to the questions you are able to synthesize using your 'oceanographic suitcase' of knowledge and 'toolbox' of analyzing/thinking.  He said its such a cool moment in the room when a candidate connects things from different questions, filling in more area of that blob around the dot 'You.' 

I loved having this pep talk--it made me really want to commit to reading more literature.  There are so many very worthwhile papers out there, so many even in just the last 10 years that I want to read and understand!  I can, for instance, read a journal article of something related to analytical techniques, methane budgets, air-sea fluxes.  I learn a lot from reading journal articles--mostly from Marine Chemistry, J. Geophysical Research, Science, Nature, American Geophysical Union, for papers I am writing or trace gas homework I am doing that I know it would be so worth it to read some on my own with no particular assignment I have to do associated with it.  I don't have much down time, but I can make room for this I hope!

Love my Sealife vegetable calendar soooo much!  This beet seahorse is a daily cheerleader at the moment.

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