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A compilation of stories, telescopes, internship resources, and other things radio astronomy.

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Graduate School: Applying, Living, Thesising

The Professional Student is a blog about everything grad school from the application process to my experiences living as a grad student, being a parent in grad school, and researching the role of chemistry in the evolution of our universe.

Filtering by Category: Research

Astrochemistry: The Study of Molecules in Space

Olivia Wilkins

Astrochemistry is the joining of astronomy and chemistry, but what types of questions do astrochemists study, and why do they study these questions at all? Here, astrochemistry is defined as the study of molecules in space, and we take a look at where they are, how they got there, and what they are doing before considering some of the many ways in which chemistry can help us understand our wider universe.

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How Astronomers Get Observing Time on Telescopes

Olivia Wilkins

Obtaining astronomical data with a telescope takes much longer than several hours actually using the instrument. Rather, the process takes months starting with a telescope proposal that provides both scientific justification for the project and technical justification for the instruments requested. Here’s a look into what this process looks like, from writing the proposal itself to the review process, using my recent Green Bank Telescope observations to provide some examples.

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Applying to the NSF GRFP: The Research Statement

Olivia Wilkins

The application for the NSF GRFP includes a two-page research statement. In these two pages, you have to provide a brief plan of what research you plan to carry out in grad school, address your intellectual merits and broader impacts, and provide enough background information so that a scientist in the same discipline (but likely a completely different area of research) can easily understand the ideas you are trying to convey. How can you possibly fit all of that into two pages?

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Applying to the NSF GRFP: The personal statement

Olivia Wilkins

Personal statements are often limited to one or two pages, but when applying for the NSF GRFP, you have up to three pages to tell your story. How do you use all of that space? How can you incorporate your past experiences with your future goals (especially if you don't know them yet)? No matter how you tackle these questions, it is important to tell your story.

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Relearning how to read

Olivia Wilkins

As an undergraduate, I learned the hard way that I needed to relearn how to read. After reading several scientific journal articles front-to-back, word-by-word, I was bored out of my mind and found that I was unable to recall any of the information (I thought) I had just taken in.

Here's an overview of the mindset you should have when tackling just about any (but specifically scientific) type of journal article.

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Making that connection

Olivia Wilkins

If there is a most understated key to success, it would have to be networking. Networking might just be a buzzword overused by your undergrad institution's career center, or it might be something more. And, it isn't just for business majors or for those savvy at wining and dining. Networking also comes in the form of chance meetings, emails, and letting others do the work for you.

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Applying to the NSF GRFP

Olivia Wilkins

In research, having an external source of funding definitely has its perks, something I found out while at the Universität zu Köln on a Fulbright research grant. While I have yet to learn more about the extent of the benefits from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP), it is already clear that being an NSF Graduate Research Fellow will do more for me than give me another line on my CV.

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