Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

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Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby retardphysicist » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:18 pm

Hey fellow grads!

I am about to start my 2nd year of grad school and am all done with quals (YAY!). I've been working on experimental particle physics for some of last year and for the summer. I find myself bored with the work sometimes, I like doing math and working in a lab too....but if you are doing analysis, as I am, you only program. I like programming but not when you spend most of your time trying to figure out why this method doesn't work when it worked last year just fine.....I find myself stuck far too often. I'm a super curious person, but find myself not curious about what I'm researching.

Anyway, to get to the point. Have any other grad students experienced this? How do you cope?

Also, is there anyone out there who has decided to switch your field of focus, regardless as to what it was from and to? and what difficulties were involved with this transition?

And for those who reapplied to grad school, how did that turn out? and why'd you do it?

Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated! And of course, share your research troubles as well :)

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Re: Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby Andromeda » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:54 am

Yeah I'm in that "it's not interesting stage" right now. Was hired to do astronomy and here I am doing what's essentially engineering for our instrument, nary a science result in sight... just not holding my interest, and we won't be online for a few months yet! Sigh...

I should note that yep I did apply again for grad school- I originally only got in to my undergrad institution but realized a few months in that I was really not interested in doing a full degree there (it was physics, I do astronomy- none of the groups interested me, nor did the city I was in), so bailed after 1.5 years. Actually, thinking back on it I should stop knocking my current position as I'm a year in and it's soooo much better than the last time, I now love where I live and people around here have work/life balance, and promise of more interesting things on the horizon (whereas before I was just stuck in doing crap I didn't want to do for all eternity it felt like).

So like life that's a bit of a mixed bag answer, though overall yes I am happier with taking the plunge to move elsewhere.

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Re: Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby retardphysicist » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:37 am

Thanks for sharing Andromeda, much appreciated!

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Re: Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby CarlBrannen » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:49 pm

Eventually you will discover that all other physics research possibilities are also boring. (Think about it, physics research is very money oriented. You have to find a professor who has money to pay you to do the research. Why would he assign you the interesting part, if any?) Here are some more ways to raise your level of interest:

(a) Try listening to rock and roll while programming.
(b) Try keeping an alcoholic beverage around.
(c) Try working during the summers as a cashier at the local McDonalds (or equivalent).

These work well for me, your mileage may vary.

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Re: Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby Izaac » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:09 am

Or even better: working at McDonalds while drinking and listening to hard rock!

Joking aside, I have serious doubts about a) and b). I mean, how can you decently give your thoughts to a code when Brian Johnson yells about his tattoos?

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Re: Grad research troubles :( let's discuss!!!

Postby gracebland » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:15 am

Thank You friend for sharing Andromeda :)
My opinion is you have to keep listening music while programing and also be careful about the surroundings

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