Archive for the ‘Doctorate’ Category

Reflection on Doctorate Journey Part 3: Choosing the Group

Was asked by a friend on choosing the right research group.
She was interested to do a particular project in a particular group.
Through her Mom, I told her the following:

Don’t just choose a research group because the project is interesting.
You should find out about the members of the group too.
If the current members of the group are happy, most likely you will have a happy life in the next 4 years.
Otherwise, no matter how interesting the project is, you will have an unhappy life.

Very important message for any aspiring researcher, I should say.

Posted May 22, 2016 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Doctorate, Thought

Reflection on Doctorate Journey Part 2: Connection

“Wargreymon. Metalgarurumon. They digivolved together to become… Omnimon!
– Digimon the Movie –

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Side Story:

The heroes, Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon, were outnumbered by countless copies of Diaboromon, the villain.
As they were at the brink of defeat, something strange happened.
Emails sent by millions and millions of children around the world to support and encourage them suddenly engulfed them.
Immediately, both of them were revived and merged with the emails, transforming them into Omnimon.
Omnimon then easily defeated the villain.

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It is said that no man is an island. Absolutely it is true for a doctorate journey.
In what way? I am glad you ask.

Most of the time a PhD student has to work alone.
Yup, that’s the daily routine. Solitude. Isolation. Loneliness.
Being cut off from the rest of the world for most of the journey.
Definitely it is not healthy in terms of mental well being.

A PhD student needs friends, both inside and outside the group.
Three important benefits of friendship in PhD student’s life.

Firstly, the obvious one.
Friends are there for fun.
Doctorate work is pretty stressful and a PhD needs to relieve stress by sharing happy moments with his/her friends.

Secondly, he/she can discuss the project with the friends.
After all, his/her supervisor may not be available for discussion most of the time.
In some cases, a PhD student can only meet his/her supervisor in a group meeting.
Those friends can give idea and constructive criticism before he/she presents the work to the supervisor.

Thirdly, access to instrument.
When I was doing PhD, there were various instruments which I did not have access to use.
Luckily, my friends from other groups were there to open the door for me and teach me how to use the instrument.
Better still, it was not even collaboration project.
And best, if there is queue to use a certain instrument, my friends were to help me cut the queue.

Seeing all these benefits, I am convinced there is no way a PhD student can complete his doctorate in time all by himself/herself.
In addition, I don’t like it when there is politics in the research group.
Instead of shooting each other down, why don’t they just help each other complete their PhD work?

There must be no politics in the lab. Similarly, there must be no office politics wherever I work now.

Connection. Friendship.
It is important everywhere.

Posted April 21, 2016 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Doctorate, Thought

Oral Defence 1, July, 2014

After 4.5 years…
Finally, the day arrived.. when I presented my work.
The day of… Oral Defence!!!

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Phew, I really tried my best to impress the audience and the professors.
In the end… thank God I passed!!!
“It was more like a show than an Oral Defence”, an examiner commented.
Well, even the closed door session was a session of laughter!! :P :P :P

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Took photos with my brothers in arms.
Really, PhD life is more bearable when you know others who share the same hardship like you.

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Dinner treat from my PhD supervisor!
Super yummy food and I was the one clearing the food ~ ~ ~ ~

“Jefri, what do you do in your work?” a professor asked during dinner.
“I scrubbed and mopped the floor.”

Yes, I am serious. Scrubbing the floor is my bread and butter.
:P :P :P

Posted July 2, 2014 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Doctorate, Food, Friends, School

Reflection on Doctorate Journey Part 1: Do or Die

“ Listen to me, all of you!  There is no way home for any of us, save through victory!
In this land we will stand or fall together.  Now, return to the base and man your posts.”
-Arthas Menethil-

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A side story from Warcraft III:
Arthas and his men decided to pursue the enemy. They went to the enemy territory by ship.
Upon arriving at the coastal area, the king ordered Arthas and his men to return.
Half of his men wanted to return.
Arthas, angered by the king’s command, decided to stealthily burn the ships so there was no way home.
Hence, he told his men, “You want to go home? Make sure you win this war first.”
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Many times, doctorate journey does not leave one with many choices.
In fact, there are only two alternatives: do it now or risk wasting time.
Examples include:
– You only have that one 2 a.m. time slot to use the equipment. The rest of the time slots have been fully booked.
– Your final sample is way too precious since it is expensive/it takes ~30 steps to synthesize it.
You have to characterize it in 30 minutes time or risk losing it as it decomposes easily.
– Your supervisor is way too busy. He only has that 9 pm slot on Valentine day to discuss project with you.
Either you meet him and reschedule your Valentine date or you go for Valentine date and arrange another appointment with your supervisor 3 weeks later.
– You carry out the experiment 20 times (each experiment, with variation here and there, takes two days to complete) but the experimental yield is only 50% at most.
Yet your supervisor still insists you do more experiment to get 95% yield.

Well, examples above are clearly exaggerated. Yet, I believe you get my point.
“Jefri, do you want to go for outing with us?”
”Sorry, I can’t. I have to work. No choice.”
”Jefri, you always have a choice.”
Yeah right! I have a choice either to work or to join you all for an outing and get scolded by my supervisor later on.

Doctorate study can be full with teeth gritting as you may be stuck in a do-or-die situation.
Anyway, I believe even undergraduate students may experience this kind of situation.
Tomorrow at 10 am is your exam and until 1 am you have only covered 40% of the topics.
What will you do? Keep studying while taking caffeine? Give in to sleepiness and prepare to fail in exam?

Do-or-die.
A friend equated her PhD as slavery.
A professor commented, “My PhD sucked!” He equated his post-doc work with slavery too.

Do-or-die situation is basically a test of determination and stamina.
If you are determined, you will just do it. Just do whatever your supervisor asks you to do in your project.
It can be tiring at times too. Hence, it tests your stamina.

Anyway, I found a way to comfort myself as I grit my teeth.
Doctorate study comes with scholarship. Not bad, at least there was monthly income.
Well, some may argue PhD allowance is very little. But nah, I don’t care with that.
In my time it was difficult to find a job.
Hey, not bad, at least I received allowance!
Do-or-die. It was tough but at least I was paid for that!

My teeth gritting skill has been polished times and again due to this do-or-die circumstance.
I will not say the skill is perfect.
But at least, I become more confident for future challenges.

Posted January 11, 2014 by Jefri Yue Fei 吴岳飞 in Doctorate, Thought

Thesis Submission

Thesis submission

Submitted my doctorate thesis.
It was a 4.5 years journey. Yup, I could not finish it in 4 years.
Some friends I know chose to rest and take vacation after submitting their thesis.
For me, I still have not decided when I will take a leave.
So for now, I will be busy with work as usual while at the same time looking for a new career opportunity.

Reflecting a 4.5 years journey will definitely take very long.
There are soooo many things I can write about.
But for now, I just want to thank God I made it in one piece.
Yeah, in one piece.

Thesis submission (2)

Anyway, my supervisor plans to treat the whole group meal next week to celebrate my thesis submission.
Do look forward to the post of delicious foods, ok?