Have you wondered how scientists ask questions, what their first research question was like? I started a podcast series called just-questions to address how researchers ask questions.
Please consider subscribing for future episodes. Comments/Criticism welcome.
Science often starts with questions. Each question has a story. But most podcasts are about answers and their associated stories. In this series, I will talk to researchers about their research questions, methods, and how they ask their questions. There is a lot one can learn about asking questions. This is useful for students starting/learning to ask research questions.
This year, the Ant course was in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. I had lots to learn from many instructors and students from different parts of the world. Here is a video glimpse of the course, and my travel in South Africa after the course.
“How does studying ants help the HUMAN society?” is a question that I often get asked, sometimes from my peers who study human diseases or engineer ‘stuff’. I often explain them by giving examples. The following material sums up my response quite well.
An interview with a scientist, Justin Marshall:
In the beginning of a PhD, most students plan to read all the literature on their thesis topic. Many of them plan to publish them as literature review in journals. I have been planning to write one for my thesis. It is definitely not an easy task since it is not just a summary of papers one reads. One needs to critically analyse the literature, connect them and synthesise new ideas. Here are a few links that I found useful:
As I finish collecting lots of data from two experiments on ant navigation this season, I made a short video of my other explorations.
Here is our recent science outreach ‘antwalk’ in Canberra. Although it is like science outreach every day I work outside collecting data on the ANU campus. There are always curious people asking about my work, learning and getting interested in knowing more about how f-ant-astic ants are! There are curious magpies and possums too (maybe they just want to eat the ants or the cookies that I give them).
When it comes to culture, there are so many. If one closely observes, there are similarities. But, it is the differences that make them special. It is perhaps like variation for natural selection.
Every year Canberra celebrates cultures of all kinds. Time for learning about the similarities and differences of different cultures. I was lucky to be in Canberra for this year’s Multi-cultural festival. Here is a youtube video that I made for you.
I have been working on my first experiment planned for PhD thesis. I started off stupid. I made a few mistakes while collecting the data which I could have avoided, had I planned how I am going to analyse the data that I collect. I realised this after collecting data for many hours over a month. It feels frustrating to realise that many hours of work have not been used productively. But it is also about making mistakes and learning. What is interesting is that many people seem to assume that PhD students should be intelligent enough to avoid mistakes. Some say you must be ‘intelligent’ because you are doing a PhD. But I am dumb most of the time. I will leave you with that thought and a video about intelligence:
(Eight intelligence types is just a number, but the main point is that there are different kinds of it. So for me, PhD is about making mistakes and learning to improve different kinds of intelligence and skills. It is about long hours of repetitive work, a few hours of thinking, many more of organising and executing…)