On having difficult conversations

By Suhas Vijayakumar on June 13, 2017

The only weight a school-going child should bear on their shoulder should be that of the textbooks. Their only worry should be about meeting the deadlines of their homework or preparing for the upcoming test. Yet, there I was, finding myself having a conversation about child sexual abuse with a friend. I tried to comprehend what kind of childhood they had, when they explained that the weight of their books, or thoughts of the upcoming test was the least of their concerns when they left home for school.

Tags: life

On asking the right questions

By Suhas Vijayakumar on June 9, 2017

The true power of having some information is not in the sheer amount of facts that it packs, but in understanding what you could potentially do with all that information. Developing this understanding is by no means an easy process. You’d have to constantly predict something based on the information you have and patiently wait to see what the universe throws back at you. And when it comes to developing this understanding, be it figuring out why traffic is heavier than usual, or why your brain works the way it does, it is easy to fall into the trap of looking at what has happened and thinking, “Oh! Of course. Should’ve seen it coming.”

Tags: academia, PhD, science

Academic project directory setup (minimal)

By Suhas Vijayakumar on May 31, 2017

Be it coding, or making your manuscript worthy of publication, we all know that a final version just does not exist. But a decent start lets you find your notes when you need them, or get to that methods-related tip your supervisor had given on you second meeting with them, from some 17 months ago, or to be able to just send a link to a place on the internet where others can see what you’ve been working on and can collaborate with minimal effort. There are a few options out there that solve your starting problem. None of them were quite what I was looking for – a bare minimum setup, that’s independent of the operating system, programming language used in the project, but easy to reuse in different project from another field. Just a basic directory setup that keeps my data separate from the code, article document files separate from the figures, and so on. So, after quickly canvasing the relevant information on the internet, I made one of my own this morning in hopes of using it time and again (because I want to be in academia for a much longer than this one project).

Giving a talk? Know your illusion of transparency

By Suhas Vijayakumar on May 29, 2017

I’ve been a public speaking junkie for the better half of my life so far. I’ve mostly interacted with high schoolers. And I absolutely love it. I like the attention that I get when I’m in front of them, when they come and want to have a chat after the talk, when they contact me a year later to tell me how they are doing, I like the whole deal. And along the way the two most important things that have helped me get better are the following:

Tags: advice, how to

What can physicists teach other researchers?

By Suhas Vijayakumar on May 24, 2017

If you’re in the field of social sciences, there is no way you haven’t heard about the replication crisis in one form or the other. There are studies that paint quite a grim picture, then there are studies that provide some consolation and say that the numbers are slightly better than what other papers say. In either case, the conclusion is that something has to change in the way we think about doing science.