Caltech first year over

It is done. Well, I have not fully passed my qualification exams, but at least in the summer I can focus only on research. The Argentinians congratulated me on becoming a second-year! I suppose I have survived the battled, tattered, but unscathed otherwise. Not everybody have fared so well.

After sleeping, finally doing laundry, sending a dozen necessary emails, and putting the books all back into their places, somehow three days have passed. The office has been cleaned but my room still looks like it has been bombed. Oh, those three days also include one day of being nearly stranded in the open ocean while standup paddleboarding, but that is another story.

The blog has not been accurately reflecting my life. I am gardening now. Who would have imagined, me, to take up such a static hobby? But it is hard to describe how helpful it was in maintaining my life.

My garden at the Catalinas is now quite thriving, with lettuce (tons of them), basil, parsley, chives, leek, and some wild carrots that the previous owner has left. Also I have cosmos flowers and California poppy, but while the former is growing at an extraordinary pace, the latter has nearly been wiped out. The first pink flower bloomed when the morning of the first preliminary exam came. I could have cried right there.

Edward has been very supportive throughout–I will not have made it through without his help.

Lee asked, How have you changed in the past year? Whose work do you now most admire? What questions now intrigue you? About the first question, I have I believe I learned much, although there is still room for lot more improvement. Best pre-prelim advice I have received were (1) do not leave anything blank and show all your work, (2) if you cannot prove/solve the problem directly or in time, show something–for example, the sketch of what you would have done, examples, reduced-dimension solutions (e.g. N=2 case), and so on, and (3) do not try to write perfect answers, but even out the time. Best post-prelim advice of course came from Jean-Laurent, who firmly stated, that I am “here to do research.” So I ranted on about the idea that I had, and he listened patiently and pointed the next steps out. I hope I do get to be a professor like him, and many others here at Caltech.

p.s. The possibly first paper that I have properly read has been finally published in AER. Peter Klein wrote a short introduction to Dessein et al. (2016).






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