Bates Galaxies Lab: Meeting Notes from August 31, 2016

Bates Galaxies Lab: Meeting Notes from August 31, 2016

by Aleks Diamond-Stanic

Attending: Josh Rines, Sophia Gottlieb, Aleks Diamond-Stanic

This was the first ever meeting of the Bates Galaxies Lab, and it happened with Sophia in Greece, Josh in New Hampshire, and Aleks in Lewiston.  Sophia has been backpacking through Europe after completing a summer research program this summer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Colorado.  Josh is home after working this summer for a company in Oregon that makes fiber lasers.

There was discussion about various items in the Mentor / Mentee Expectations documents that we’ve been putting together for this semester.  We agreed to have weekly lab meetings from 1:15pm to 2:15pm on Mondays, starting on September 12.  We also agreed that Josh and Sophia would put together weekly progress reports by 5pm each Friday.  There was some discussion of the format for these progress reports (e.g., emails, PDF files, documents that could be stored in a central location with a common naming system), and we’ll keep brainstorming ideas for the best format.  The first progress reports will be due at 5pm on Friday, September 9.  Regarding the content of those progress reports, the plan is to have the Mentor / Mentee Expectations documents finalized by this date and to have Josh and Sophia re-read the original Hubble Space Telescope proposal associated with this project and share updates on forming new mental chunks (a term borrowed from Barbara Oakley’s A Mind for Numbers book) related to to the ideas and terminology used in the proposal.  

There was discussion of the duration of the thesis project (one semester vs two semesters) and the logistics associated with course registration and student employment.  The default plan is for Sophia to register for PHYS 360 (Independent Study) and for Josh to register for PHYS 457 (Senior Thesis) in the Fall 2016 semester.  Regarding time commitments to the project, as things currently stand Josh is planning to work for one semester and Sophia is planning to work for two semesters.  There is funding available to support student employees through a NASA grant, but it is unclear whether Bates policy allows students to be paid for the same work that they are doing for course credit.  A “next action” (a term borrowed from David Allen’s Getting Things Done book) will be to clarify this policy before the beginning of the semester.  Both Sophia and Josh are also scheduled to work with the Peer Assisted Learning in the Sciences (PALS) program this semester.  On the topic of keeping track of work hours, Aleks recommended the Toggl timer, which could become a standard tool in the lab.

There was also discussion of putting together a Bates Galaxies Lab blog using WordPress.  To start with, the blog posts could consist of summaries of our weekly meetings (e.g, these notes could become the first blog post).  One idea would be to have posts completed within 24 hours of our each lab meeting (i.e., by 2:15pm on Tuesday).  We could rotate through who takes notes and posts them on the blog.

There was some discussion of research notebooks.  Sophia has had good experiences with OneNote and Aleks has been happy with using Google Docs.  We’ll continue to think about this going forward.

Regarding the “finish line” for the thesis, Aleks suggested a lab policy that theses be posted on the Scholarly Communication and Research at Bates (SCARAB) website.  Regarding a progress report (e.g., for progress between now and fall break), Aleks suggested making use of the Bates Data Papers Creation and Management Tool developed by Pete Schlax.  

So the next actions at this point are to finalize the expectations documents (deadline: 5pm on Fri, Sep 9), re-read the Hubble Space Telescope proposal and write a progress report on mental chunk development (deadline: 5pm on Fri, Sep 9), clarify the Bates policy on student employment and course credit (deadline: beginning of the semester), and make it safely to campus (deadline: next week for the PALS training).