We had an indoor weekend due to the major storm passing through. Luckily we got mostly spared and our thoughts are with the ones touched by the storm. I noticed quite an uptick in tweets about how long the day is when you cannot go outside (with your kids). Here is what I did - and yes this is very nerdy:
We spent a lot of time measuring things. The idea is very simple (and very familiar if you are a scientist or in a relationship with a scientist..). In parenthesis, I am cross-linking the steps with a scientific paper.
You do not need a fancy research lab to do this. All you need is a bit of imagination and some (cheap) sensors. Also, cell phones do include a lot of sensors and there are apps that can be used. I am not including them here since I am a firm believer in limiting screen times for kids, independent of content (yes, we can argue you about this..). There is something special in terms of the learning and the entertainment when you carry around a measurement device and read from its display.
Here are some sensors that work well for such activities. Note that none of them are toys. Please stay safe and use them in an age-appropriate way. All of them are less than $25 on Amazon (except the CO2 sensor). Please see here to learn how my site uses affiliate links. Below are some sample questions that kept us entertained and curious.
Here are some basic but (too kids and adults like me who are still kids) fun questions. Always add the question "Why?"
Electricity using the plug in "KillAWatt" (only for adults, under strict adult supervision, outlets are nothing to play with)
Electricity using the multimeter
And so on. Have fun happy Monday!
I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can improve and learn to in whatever I am doing. This constant searching of new and better ways how to live and work brings me a lot of joy because it gives me the feeling of moving forward, of spending time in a meaningful way, and of challenging myself to be and do better than I currently am.
Over the years, I have shared with you some of these thoughts, many related to academia and how to become a better leader in the world of academic research. Today, I want to summarize some of these thoughts by sharing with you 3 key rules to get to the next level:
Rule 1: Never settle. It is so easy and comfortable to settle. However, the price you pay for that will be a heavy burden to carry, namely the feeling of having missed out on life in its richness. Signs that you have settled with yourself and your life are
Rule 2: Small incremental steps of improvement. It is easy to sit down and make a list of few big things that we want to change in our (professional) life, make an ambitious plan (to be implemented on Monday) which will be already in complete disarray by Tuesday. Rather, figure out a 2 minute thing you can easily do and hold yourself accountable to do it everyday. Start with kindness and generosity. Here are some examples that have worked very well for me:
Give it a try and let me know below in the comment section how these three rules are working out for you!
One of the staples of an academic lab is the so-called "lab meeting". I remember lab meeting as this frightening event where suddenly all eyes are pointed towards you and your science gets assessed by your peers and your professor. Will it be thumbs up or down? Will I get asked to do another year of boring control experiments? You get the idea. These are typically weekly meetings that often last one to two hours and assume various formats but it often boils down to trainees getting up and giving updates on their science. In my group, we spent some time thinking about lab meeting and decided to make some changes, here are our thoughts, in the hope they may help others make lab meetings more productive and fun.
We meet weekly for two hours and we have a shared spreadsheet where people add what they want to discuss to a queue together with an estimate how much time it will take. Every week, we work through that queue during the meeting (being flexible if urgent stuff has come up to ignore the order of the queue). There is explicit encouragement to present small and preliminary things, perhaps a single plot, a question about experimental design, a confusing result etc. So far, the meetings were highly productive and lots of fun since everyone learned a lot. Mission accomplished...
As some of you may now, we have started the Carolina Center for Neurostimulation last year to accelerate the convergence of our brain stimulation research with clinical brain stimulation such as FDA-cleared transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treatment-resistant depression. Figuring out how to interface the realities of clinical care with research has been a rewarding learning experience for me. If you are a scientist interested in translational research, I highly recommend you hang out with clinicians who treat patients with the disorder you are interested in. For me, spending time in the clinical realm through shadowing and collaboration has been truly eye-opening.
Today, I am delighted to announce that the UNC Department of Psychiatry together with our Center has worked hard behind the scenes to augment the TMS options offered to patients with depression. Processes in the background have been streamlined to minimize time-to-treat. In the near future, there will be options to opt-in and contribute to research on biological variables that predict the treatment response and on augmentation of TMS with other potentially synergistic modalities while receiving TMS. More details to come as we are finalizing our research plans. In the mean time, if you are interested in clinical TMS for you or your loved ones, please do not hesitate to contact our Department to schedule a brain stimulation consultation by calling (984) 974-3854.
Small Print. Please note that I am not a medical doctor but a researcher. Please direct all your medical questions to your healthcare provider. In case of a medical emergency, please call 911.