URSS Diaries #2
I have now completed my second week of my URSS project and therefore am a quarter of the way through! Even in these two weeks I have learnt so much, a lot more than I ever anticipated. Of course, I knew that I would learn more about eclipsing binaries and triple star systems, and I certainly have done, but I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself, my learning habits and working in a research environment as well.
When at school, college or university, learning is broadly similar. When you get to uni, the style is more independent and focused on you going away and really learning the content rather than a teacher telling you everything you learn. However, in all these places you are being taught, then you go away and learn, and finally you will probably get examined in some way on what you have learnt. When doing research though, that structure is completely broken down and the learning is basically all independent, especially if you are researching something no-one else has looked at before. I think I’m quite lucky since I haven’t been left completely on my own; since my supervisor wrote the paper my research is building on, he has been telling me lots about the research and has taken time to make sure I understand the techniques for processing data and understanding how the computer system and bits of code work. Therefore in a sense, I am still being taught about some of these things. Yet, since I am working independently most of the time, I am having to solve my problems by thinking very deeply about them – I can’t just google what I want to understand like I had the tendency of doing during last year! However from having to do this, I do feel like I am becoming a much better problem solver, analytical thinker and programmer!
Doing research can be very isolating, which is something I have struggled with a little this week. To combat that, I have tried to meet up with friends during lunch and in the evening, so I get some proper human contact and give my brain a break! On a more personal development level, I have also realised when I am most productive and how I need a range of ongoing tasks to keep myself inspired and driven, and picked up lots of skills which I will be sure to implement when I go back to studying next year!
All in all, my main lesson learnt this week is how much you learn when doing a research project! It’s been tiring work, but ultimately worth it for this amazing experience.