Lab Meeting on 01 August 2019

This week’s lab meet was petite but by no means picayune! We discussed ways to learn physics, Neurohackademy, and how to build trust and confidence in a group. Thanks Kirstie, Isla, and Sarah for your tips, suggestions, and a super interesting conversation!

Celebrations and cool things to share

Kirstie is finding Neurohackademy great so far – with lots of awesome talks! Here are a select few 👇

Georgia (and Kirstie) got ethics approval for the Citizen Science Project – the day has finally arrived! YAY! The GitHub repository and survey are now live, and we’ve sent an email to the project’s mailing list to launch it. 🚀

There are lots of ways to be involved:

Questions we’re thinking about

Isla is in the midst of writing her dissertation, and is wondering how to pinpoint the right level of detail needed. Because she’s used to sharing knowledge and making things clear [🧡 –Ed], it can be hard to work out the right level of explanation for other experts. A top tip for writing from Sarah is to start with bullet points and then build up a path of what else needs explaining.

Georgia wants to know how to help people help each other in the lab meetings. There were lots of great ideas, ranging from focusing on technical challenges that are more common across projects, which solves the problem of members of the group not having the same domain expertise, to working on a specific project together to build up those skills. Having a very specific project to work on together can make the time really focused and valuable. The research engineering team run tech talks to share some of their skills, and maybe some of the weeks could include working through a small problem together.

Sarah Wants tips on working on a project if the content is overwhelming (a.k.a anyone familiar with Guassian Processes? 😅)

Kirstie has been thinking a lot about the need for trust in communities – specifically, that we need to trust each other to be able to ask each other questions. She’s been thinking about what the barriers to trust are in the group are. She’d love to know what has worked in the past to build a supportive team and environment. We discussed whether shyneess or lack of self-confidence could be treated using exposure therapy, and Sarah suggested that a good way to strike a balance is to find a friendly audience to start with (but definitely not to avoid speaking or assertion entirely).

We also discussed the Binder community and what makes it supportive. According to Sarah, it helps to have EMOJIS!!! ✨ 💖 😃 Also, never missing an opportunity to remind people they’re doing a good job helps. This is very important in the Binder community because they’re so distributed.

Georgia would like ideas about the best ways of learning physics! Sarah recommended looking at science videos on YouTube. There are also fun experiments that you can do yourself at home, for example experimenting with static electricity using balloons. So much better than dry manuals 🙄

Check out: 👇

Isla gave this awesome (wise) advice: You start learning about physics when you’re a baby when you pick things up and drop them to see what happens – carry on with this attitude. Stay curious! 👶 👩 👵

Anything else

We also had a general discussion about astrophysics, maths, and academia. Academia can feel like SHOUTING into the void (but you are making the domain of humanity’s knowledge a little larger, which is kinda cool).

We discussed the fact that academic conferences can be brutal, and how we deal with it. Many people have problems because of their own biases, which it’s important to bear this in mind. Sarah shared the top tip that you’ll often get people wanting to share their experience more than hear your thoughts. You can always reply with “I think that’s more of a comment than a question” and move swiftly on 😏.

Isla pointed out the most important thing is to BE KIND: being kind and listening can be disarming and a good strategy for dealing with criticism 💞