I guess that I am not the only one who has found the grind of a second pandemic lockdown a drain also on mental health and productivity.
The first lockdown was almost fun. For the first time in years I was able to sit at home, work on what I wanted to work on, and go jogging regularly in clean air. There was even the bonus of a new wave of healthcare related information across every media outlet – a field with which I have been passionately involved for 20 years now.
This time is a bit different. First of all it is Winter, so jogging in the park is not so easy. It’s snowing and -10 celsius (-20 fahrenheit) today. Air pollution has not dropped this time, I guess it’s a combination of lignite burning and car emissions. And work is much more stressful this time around. That last point is what I want to write about today.
Continue reading “Mental Health Check”
The past two end-of-years I have wanted to write a bilan de l’année. Both years were incredibly exciting and I had a lot to look back on. In both cases I wrote the notes for myself but never published them on the site. I guess that, while it is both useful and healthy to keep a monitor of how things have gone, I am not so keen on going public on these topics.
2020 has been a particularly unusual year. I am not excited about what I did this year. But I have to admit that this year, despite the obvious difficulties, brought a welcome return to modes of work which agree with me and, frankly, a blistering level of productivity.
Continue reading “2020 coming to an end”
I really love dealing with people. I come from a culture which highly prizes human interaction and communication skills. But I also love technical work, and this tends to attract people who prefer to work alone. In this article I want to discuss my progression through different styles of management and leadership throughout my life.
Continue reading “Managing People”
I wrote this article a year ago. Somehow it sat in my drafts despite being essentially finished. I publish it now as is. Any mention to what I am doing now refers to September 2019.
A short homage to Paul Graham who, among others, so nicely captured the issue of Making things vs Managing teams.
Continue reading “Maker vs Manager”
Something I’ve struggled with on and off over the 20 years that I have been making mathematical models is explaining those models to others. I have tried to bring people along and develop their understanding. But mainly what I observed was that, some people just got it and others did not.
I have certainly improved my own skill at explaining. This comes down to having streamlined stories and simpler take-home messages. Telling a clearer story certainly improves my audiences’ self-satisfaction, but ultimately some of them get the whole message and others do not.
Continue reading “Modelling the Modeller”
I have been reconnecting with some of my academic friends. We all belong more or less to the same age cohort. In recent weeks, I have been watching them interacting with one another on Twitter and through various other media. They each have achieved considerable degrees of success in their chosen fields – all have tenure at global top-50 ranked institutions. Through my observations, I have come to the realisation that the era of the solo contributor is dead.
Continue reading “The era of the solo contributor is dead”
Just a little list inspired by a friend. 10 years of my life. A life of priviledge mixed with some pain. A lot of lessons learned, some of them more painful than they needed to be.
Continue reading “2010-2019”
I sometimes see myself as a slow learner. I am extremely fast at deep-thinking, which somewhat disguises this fact, but I learn things from the ground up. Until I can think a topic through I sometimes feel unsure about operating from an incomplete understanding.
When I worked in academia I prefered to learn rather than to force my opinions on others. Everybody seemed reasonably smart, and they were absolutely convinced of their own correctness, and so I listened and learned. Continue reading “Why I write”
A sense of home is a powerful feeling. The sense of belonging, of knowing where everything is. I miss that sometimes.
I left Ireland almost exactly 10 years ago with a burning need to go out and prove myself. I had finally recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was going to take up a much delayed PhD position. I moved to the University of Luebeck, where I found my introduction to neuroscience, before moving on to Paris Descartes, the École Normale Supérieure and the University of Chicago. With each move I developed a new network of colleagues, collaborators, and mentors.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a member of the Irish mathematical community. Many years ago I wrote the website for the Mathematics Department at NUI, Galway. While doing that I included biographies of the then members of staff and their research domains. At some point, I also made a backup of the website for my own reference under my personal domain. Sadly, many of the members of staff who worked at NUI, Galway when I was an undergraduate are now dead. So now this resource has become a useful archive. And thus I was re-discovered by a member of the current Irish mathematical community.
Continue reading “The network you grow up with”
One year ago I finally picked up the courage to put my thoughts publicly online. I led with a traditional Hello World but I quickly followed-up with my opening manifesto for the company I was trying to establish Simmunology.
The discipline of writing is something I initially discovered, when I first moved to Germany, 10 years ago. It clarifies my thoughts and allows me to discover the holes in my own thinking.
Blogging has paid off immensely. Before, I was afraid of sharing my thoughts and having my opinions come back to bite me. This sometimes led me to go too far down paths that I didn’t agree with.
Eventually I had to accept that I have accumulated considerable life experience. And that those to whom I was listening had typically less things of importance to say than I do. Finally, if I put it here and you disagree with me – I might change my mind – it will certainly lead to a more aligned working relationship.