(un)Blank pages .1

This is a sentence. And this is no longer a blank page. And just like that, I started writing. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? That is hardly relevant, but if you must know, I am doing this for me, and I am doing this just to exercise the muscles of writing. I’ve just started the process of ending my thesis, or in other, better words, writing up. So I must write.

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A thesis template in Word

It’s been *checks calendar* over four years since I started my PhD, which means it is time for me to start writing up my thesis. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this part. I had a great time writing and putting the figures together for my MSc thesis. And one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most besides getting beautiful recordings from tiny midbrain neurons has been to write, edit, and revise abstracts and manuscripts before publication.

But here’s the thing. I am the kind of person that keeps pointing out how that figure is not *perfectly* aligned. I’m also the kind of person that takes courses on “Designing Academic Presentations” and “Writing Compelling Abstracts” and takes notes on how great and effective the slides and figures of that seminar were. So one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted my thesis to look good. To have a nice-looking typographical style. And this inevitably took me to LaTeX. So yes, I ended up taking a course on “Using LaTeX for Academic Writing” too.

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20 long reads to #StayAtHome

A while ago I wrote a post with 10 long reads to make you think, some on the perks of having curiosity, freedom, and ignorance as the pillars of science, some on the scientific publishing industry and the reproducibility crisis, and others on gender bias, career progression, and other topics we don’t openly talk about enough. Since then I’ve continued to slowly populate a bookmark folder with several more articles of this sort. Some I’ve come across on twitter, others I’ve been sent by friends and colleagues, and none of them talk about Covid-19 nor exponentials. All the pieces that end up in this particular bookmark folder tend to be longer than usual, tend to make me think harder than usual, and tend to be thoroughly enjoyable. After finishing them I find myself having learned something new, changed my mind on something I thought I knew, or simply had a great time reading and thinking about something I usually don’t read or think about much. Given that they’ve been sitting in the online void of a bookmark folder for longer than I can remember, I thought now was as good time as any to share them with you. As last time, skip to the end for the list of titles and links. Stay safe everyone!

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Fantastic creatures III: masters of escape

What would you do if someone (or something) came at you with the unashamedly obvious intention of eating you? Would you try to outwit it by dressing up and becoming part of the scenery? Would you make use of your ninja skills and kick it in the face before running away? Or would you keep it cool and wait until this someone (or something) suddenly realised it doesn’t actually have the guts to digest you? Whatever imaginary stratagem your mind is plotting right now has the potential to be vastly overshadowed by what you are about to read. Welcome to the 2019 edition of Fantastic Creatures.

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Preparing for PhD interviews

Your name is up. You are nearly the last one to be called. For the last four hours you have been sitting in a seminar room with a dozen other applicants that all seem much more confident and much less nerve-racked than you feel. The excitement of getting offered an interview has long past, and you attempt to go over everything you have prepared during the last two weeks in a split of a second. You take one last sip of water, dry your hands on your trousers, and make sure you still remember your opening sentence. You turn your head, take a deep breath, and swallow your nerves. “That’s me”, you reply, standing up and shaking the hand of Professor Interviewer #1. You smile. “It is nice to meet you”. PI#1 smiles back – “Let’s do this” – and starts walking towards the room where the interviews are being held. 

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