Today I would like to reflect on the role of undergraduate students in the Frohlich Lab (and in science in general). To me, mentoring undergraduate students is a truly win-win setup in which every party involves greatly benefits.
I have learned over the years that some mentoring strategies work better than others for making undergraduate research a joy and success. I am sure there are many different successful philosophies and approaches, but here is how we do it:
Not all thoughts fit 140 characters. We have reached a point as a society where our fundamental values are questioned if not endangered. Let me chime in as so many others have about why science matters.
It is refreshing to see that many (newer) labs have a spelled out their philosophy on how they want to do science. I find reading these very illuminating and a good antidote against some of the darker things that happen in science and anywhere else as soon as real people are involved... For example, here is an inspiring one from the lab of Dr. Brad Voytek.
So today, I am trying an attempt at spelling out the principles of the Frohlich Lab at UNC:
Most of us spend a lot of time in meetings. I believe meetings are important since the quality of the interaction is very different from phone/email/twitter etc. However, I have started to realize that time can go by very quickly in meetings and at the end of the day no time was left for thinking, reading, and writing. Here are some things that I have found help to make meetings productive:
All of us are busy all the time. You are busy. You are likely very/crazy/incredibly busy. I am busy. They are busy.
Sure you heard and said that many times. So have I. Today, I invite you to reflect on this statement. I am worried that this attitude of all of us being busy all the time is not good for our health. In fact, I think this mindset also reduces our potential to innovate, create, and love! Days, weeks, months, and years go by being very busy! Very scary. I enjoy working very hard but I feel that this does not necessarily mean that I need to put myself into the state of being very busy all the time.
This year, I am trying to be more mindful and focused on my key priorities. I try to prioritize and not to think about all the other things that seemingly require my attention. I would like to make significant progress by investing focus and energy into my teaching, mentoring, and research. Hopefully, this will help me shift my focus from being busy to being happy about the impact of my work. Here are some roadblocks that I have identified, which I will try to reduce/eliminate:
It is now almost six years since I started as an assistant professor at UNC. Many things have changed. I have learned so much over the years. I will however never forget the magnitude of the challenge to get a research group off the ground. I decided to write up here few of the lessons (not in any particular order) I have learned that hopefully will be of help to the next generation after me.
For those of you who know, the following should not come as a surprise! It is time to look at the questions we are interested in (mechanisms, functions, and perturbations of network oscillations in health and disease) from new perspectives. Here are some of the new angles that we are currently working on integrating into our research:
Today, I had the great pleasure to visit the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. I was invited to present Grand Rounds (in essence give a talk on our work in the Frohlich Lab). I had a phenomenal time and everybody was incredibly nice and we had truly inspiring conversations about a broad range of subjects related to psychiatry. I was particularly impressed by the incredible level of care and compassion for the patients, by the innovative research, and by the positive spirit of a shared and meaningful mission. Here are some thoughts (no particular order) loosely inspired by my visit.
This post is the result of thoughts fermenting in my mind for the last few months. As you may know, one area the Frohlich Lab focuses on is the use of non-invasive brain stimulation to engage and modulate brain rhythms (transcranial alternating current stimulation, tACS). Six years ago when we started the Frohlich Lab, this was a quite unusual idea and only few others were pursuing this approach. Today, a lot of research effort is going in that direction. Yet, more critical voices have started to emerge and I feel it is time to begin mapping out my own thought process on the future of tACS. I am focusing on tACS and not tDCS since I know much less about tDCS. In no particular order:
One of my true passions is electrophysiology! I enjoy the engineering and I enjoy the troubleshooting, which often feels like solving a major mystery. Here are some random thoughts and experiences.