Dr. Mark Raizen
Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair
and Professor of Physics
(Professor Raizen recently directed a national award-winning dissertation)
The transition from incoming graduate student to accomplished researcher does not occur at the hooding ceremony with the award of the doctorate.
Instead it is a gradual process of learning
that should start as early as possible.
The first thing that must change is the
attitude about studies. Although there are
certain course requirements that must be
satisfied, the most important aspect of graduate school is to become engaged in research. How can one make that transition? I have a few suggestions, based on my own experience supervising students:
1. You do not need to take a course to learn a subject. Researchers must continue to learn, especially as they get into new areas. This is accomplished by reading papers and books, and talking to colleagues.
2. You can learn a lot from your Ph.D. advisor, but you can learn even more from fellow graduate students.
3. Make a real effort to attend seminars and colloquiua. You can always find an excuse not to go. Some talks are bad and others are excellent, and most are just average. However I try to learn something from every seminar that I attend. Just in case, make sure to bring a pencil and paper so if the talk is really awful you can still get something done.
4. Research is a full-time activity and must be a passion. Follow your interests and you will excel in those areas.
5. Although research is a full-time activity, everyone needs balance in life.