Resources for students and postdocs

This page compiles useful resources relevant to the broad professional development of students and postdocs (as well as more senior researchers!). I’ve found many these very useful myself, and I encourage young researchers to learn from others’ experience:

Five common writing mistakes new scientists make. Great tips about scientific writing. Review these — it will make your writing clearer and save you and your advisor much time.

– John Martinis at UCSB has excellent notes on how to write scientific papers

– More tips on writing science papers, by novelist Cormac McCarthy

Some things to avoid doing in graduate school

– Steven Weinberg’s “Four Golden Lessons.” Note in particular the bit about starting to do research and picking up what you need along the way.

– Excellent, concrete tips for academic job and grant applications by cosmologist Eiichiro Komatsu

– A worthwhile presentation by MIT’s Patrick Winston on How to Speak. Practical do’s and don’ts for giving excellent talks. This will help you avoid common mistakes.

Honing your Hubble application — an AstroBetter article on how to produce a strong postdoc fellowship application. Much of the advice given there applies to securing other positions in astrophysics.

– Chris Matzner’s page on “Resources for the ambitious undergraduate or beginning graduate researcher in astronomy & astrophysics” has more good advice, as well as many links to other resources.

– John Johnson writes an excellent blog, covering a broad range of important issues in astronomy, including diversity and mental health. John has written a series of great posts on intelligence in astronomy and on increasing one’s impact and work-life balance through working efficiently. Following are some posts that I especially recommend:

– Field medalist Terry Tao’s blog also has a number of great posts:

How to make award-winning posters, by Jason Wright.

– An inspiring TED talk by Amy Cuddy on ‘faking it ’til you become it.’

Smart workers seek out advice

Choose your collaborators well

– Marc Kuchner’s book on marketing for scientists

– Apply for fellowships. If you continue in academia, much of your career is going to rely on your ability to secure resources to support your research (funding, telescope time, computing time, …), so you should get all the practice you can writing strong proposals. And those skills are valuable outside academia as well.

Winning a graduate fellowship will help you in many concrete ways beyond the prestige of the fellowship. It might allow you to focus fully on your research, free up funds to allow you to travel to more conferences, etc. Graduate fellowships often represent a substantial amount of funding, and could also help your advisor hire other group members (such as a postdoc) or provide better computing resources. These will also benefit you, in addition to making your advisor proud and happy. Following are some fellowships to look out for: