Thursday, November 3, 2011

Talk at Brookhaven

Yesterday I gave the first research seminar of my life. It was a 50 minute talk at Brookhaven National Labs. Overall, I think it went well. The talk was to a small group of research scientists. About half were cosmologists, the other half were physicists of another flavor.

My hosts Erin Sheldon and Anže Slosar gave me some really helpful feed back:
  1. I wasn't expecting such a mixed audience, and I didn't give enough introduction to BOSS, and the data. For instance I didn't directly discuss why quasars are hard to target. I also didn't emphasize that the inputs to the likelihood were the photometric fluxes. I should have talked more about the difference between photometric and spectroscopic data. But in general, I need to be more aware of the audience and beef up the introduction.
  2. I went through the full derivation of the likelihood, and this wasn't necessary.
  3. I was nervous and relied on notecards. Anže said this made it look like I didn't understand what I was talking about. Basically, I need to practice the talk a bunch so I don't need cards.
  4. I mispoke and talked about the first BAO detection. I said it was from SDSS-II, it was actually from SDSS-I.
  5. In general I didn't feel prepared to answer all questions, I need to go through the talk and make sure I fully understand everything I am posting -- for instance how was the first BAO detection made?
The talk was more fun than I expected, and has definitely eased my nerves in terms of my quals. I think I can use a similar version of this talk for my quals, which is good.

1 comment:

  1. This is great, and the feedback sounds really helpful. The first few talks are rocky, but the more you give talks, the more smooth and polished they get. I definitely recommend imposing on your various nerd-friends and giving them practice talks, because it helps distill the things that are unclear (to specialists and non-specialists). I used to inflict my talks on my biologist sister, and that was super helpful.