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Doing Things in Sweden

May 29, 2010 3 comments

This is a smoked reindeer sandwich. You can find smoked reindeer in the deli section of your local grocery store where it’s called rökt renstek. I didn’t remember the Swedish word for turkey, so everything in the store was mystery meat except for renstek – see the logo on the packet. Also, it is delicious and I will probably eat a lot of it in my time here.

Props to scientist Carl Linnaeus for getting himself on the C-note.

This is Swedish money. In addition to the bills there are coins for 10, 5, and 1 kronor. The 10 kr coin is worth a bit more than $1 US, so it’s useful for tipping in bars and restaurants. The other coins are as useless as pennies.

Elsewhere: I lined up a 1-BR apartment for the summer and I stopped by the office (here) to apply for my key, access card, and online passwords. Got to chat with a few colleagues, and the conversations reinforced my belief that this was the right place to come work. The scientists are talented and the work in the group leans more toward applied science. I am excited to get started.

Future blog posts will revolve around my work and adventures in this new place, so if you’re interested in reading my stories and seeing my photos, take a moment to subscribe to the email notification on the right sidebar.

Getting things done.

May 28, 2010 3 comments

1. Finish PhD. Nothing more needs to be said after five years.

Dr. Sameer Mahajan (left) and Dr. Saad Hasan (right) with PhD advisor Prof. James Dickerson (center).

2. Vanderbilt Toastmasters club receives charter. Congratulations to the 21 chartering members of the new Vanderbilt Toastmasters club! The new-member materials arrived last week and will be distributed to everyone at the next meeting. This is the culmination of a year-long effort to grow the club’s presence at Vanderbilt. I am excited to see what the new officers will do next year, in terms of both cultivating amazing speakers who win at competitions (and job interviews and cocktail parties and dates) and staging campus-wide events that raise the club’s profile at Vanderbilt.

Categories: Life, Nanotech, toastmasters

Lessons in Winning Over an Audience: Use Metaphors

September 9, 2009 2 comments

Very few things in life are as satisfying as a highly appropriate and effectively deployed metaphor.  Last month, with the start of the school year, our Materials Science program had its kickoff lunch to welcome the new students.  The centerpiece of this gathering is the Sales Pitch Contest, in which current students have three minutes to inform the judges (the new students) of their research and how awesome it is.

My friend Joy Garnett, starting her second year, works on linking together nanoparticles.  The motivation for this research is to have the nanoparticles serve as a conduit for light.  Without getting into hardcore condensed matter physics… the discussion of periodic structures—structures with a building block that is repeated with equal spacing, such as crystal lattices or photonic crystals—is nearly ubiquitous in materials science.  Unsurprisingly, Joy’s goal is to make her nanoparticles equally spaced apart and control the spacing between them.

In the three minutes allocated for her Sales Pitch, Joy did not explain the intricacies of why light behaves specially in periodic structures.  (Wise move, as new students haven’t taken condensed matter class yet.)  Instead, she told us about the classic video game, Super Mario Brothers. Read more…

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