Thursday, November 26, 2015

Improved formulation for compressive fatigue strength of concrete

I recently traveled to Leipzig, Germany to present a paper at the 4th International Conference on Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting. The research I presented was the result of the project I worked on during Summer 2014 in Delft, where we had a small research project to come up with an improved formulation for concrete under fatigue for the Dutch National Annex to Eurocode 2-2.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

Understanding the behavior of concrete in fatigue is essential for understanding the behavior of concrete bridges subjected to repeated loads. The Dutch National Annex to the Eurocode prescribes a different expression for the Wöhler curve for compression fatigue than the Eurocode itself, and does not have a smooth transition for 106 load cycles. A new expression for concrete in compression fatigue is thus necessary. This new expression should be valid, yet not overly conservative, for high strength concrete. Therefore, a database of experiments on (ultra) high strength concrete tested in compressive fatigue is used to validate the new proposal. A proposal for the assessment of the fatigue strength of existing structures is prepared. For design, a simplified method is proposed. An expression for the fatigue strength of concrete under compression, suitable for high strength concrete, is now available, which can replace the previous fatigue expressions used in The Netherlands.

The presentation I gave is shown here:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I am Matt Lawson and This is How I Work

Today, I am inviting Matt Lawson in the "How I Work" series. Matt is about to submit a PhD thesis in musicology at Edge Hill University, UK. His doctoral research, which examined the use of film music in German Holocaust cinema, has been presented at conferences across the UK, and internationally in Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Australia and New York City. During the course of his PhD, Matt also spent ten weeks in Germany on funded Fellowship programmes, supported by the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure and the Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). He has recently worked as a consultant for the BBC, producing a website iWonder feature on the use of classical music in films, television shows and video games. Although Matt is a musicologist specializing in music for film and television, he has an academic grounding in many aspects of music theory, history and analysis. Having completed his undergraduate honours degree in Music at Huddersfield in 2009, Matt has since gained an MA with distinction from the University of York (2012). He was also a postgraduate participant in a HEA collaborative project between Edge Hill University and the University of Roehampton. Matt has taught at Edge Hill on four different degree programmes across the faculty of Arts and Sciences, and has recently completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PGCTHE), granting him Fellow status of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Visit his website at

Current Job: Sessional Music Lecturer at a HE College
Current Location: South Yorkshire, UK
Current mobile device: iPhone 5C (8GB)
Current computer: Laptop. My lovely gaming/work PC is poorly and is in for (an expensive) repair.

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I'm about to submit my PhD thesis following a three-year GTA studentship programme at Edge Hill University. I'm in the strange post-PhD, pre-Getting A Job stage of life. I'm a musicologist, and my doctoral research examines how film music is used in German Holocaust cinema. More broadly, I'm interested in differing uses of music and sound in cinema and television. I've been lucky to get some sessional teaching work at a HE college very local to my home, and there's a few other irons in the fire which will hopefully come off too. Fingers crossed!

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I'm fairly lightweight when it comes to this. Microsoft Office. I don't use any referencing software, as I find it adds more complexity to my working patterns. Microsoft Word has been at the core of 99% of my PhD process.

What does your workspace setup look like?

As I've moved home, and am about to submit, I guess this question is in the past tense! I had my own shared office with other GTAs, but often preferred to work in the postgraduate room. I found it a more productive working atmosphere, and being able to vent with other PhD candidates was always helpful. I struggle to work from home, as it's too familiar. I spent 10 weeks in Germany during my PhD on funded Fellowship schemes, and I found this to be very productive. I probably wrote just shy of 30,000 words in those ten weeks.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Just do it. Even if you're not in the mood, just write anything down. This ties in with my answer to the question on the best advice I've ever received. I think you've got to be passionate about what you do, too. Writing a journal article, or making changes to a literature review, are not always going to be exciting, but you've got to make them exciting, and remind yourself why you're doing it in the first place. Also, be strict with a working pattern. Especially if the PhD is full-time, and you have no other commitments, treat it seriously. Set your alarm for 7:30am, even on a cold, dark December morning, and get in to the office with a tea or coffee by 9am. Take a morning break, a lunch hour, an afternoon break, and then go home at 5:30 or 6pm and RELAX. I burnt out during my PhD, and it was quite serious at one point in terms of my mental health. If I could go back and change anything, it would be to look after myself. I'm still recovering from the mental exhaustion I caused myself by taking too much on, and not allowing myself to have some 'me' time.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
Just a simple folder ordering system on my PC desktop. Folders with titles such as 'PhD', 'Misc', 'Journal Articles', 'Funding Applications' and so forth keep me fairly organised. I could improve though...

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
I have an iPad which is useful when reading bits and bobs on the sofa on an evening, but it's never really been a huge part of my academic life. I use it to watch Netflix films though, and to browse the internet generally. The computer is the main tool really.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?

Ambition. When I started my PhD in 2012, I'd only presented at one conference, and that was tied in to my Masters programme. Three years later, I've presented across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, the USA (New York and LA) and Australia. I've also applied for, and received, four different scholarships or fellowships. I love talking about my work, and am passionate about it, so travelling to exotic places is a mix of two of my passions: travel and academia! Some say I've overdone it, but my CV looks fairly strong as I enter the job market, and I think this striving to constantly disseminate my research and travelling large distances to do it will help me in the long term.

What do you listen to when you work?

Embarrassingly, as a musicologist, nothing! I find music while I am working very distracting. However, on the rare occasions I do, I would either listen to some rousing film music to get me in the mood to work, or my absolute favourite band, Muse.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
I've just finished reading the biography of the aforementioned band Muse. I've not read a novel in quite a while. I'm a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire, and have read both again recently. However, I feel that academic reading has put me off 'normal' reading for a short while!

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?

I'm traditionally fairly quiet, shy and conscientious, but presenting at academic conferences and teaching have led me to be far more confident and outgoing. I wouldn't say I'm the life and soul of a party still, but I've definitely come out of my shell, and feel very comfortable with public speaking now.

What's your sleep routine like?

Better than during some stages of my PhD. Due to the flexible working hours of doctoral life, I found myself at one stage watching TV or films until 2am, and waking up at 9:30-10am the next morning. Now I have moved home, I have got into a more respectable pattern. I usually nod off between 11-11:30 and wake up at around 8am.

What's your work routine like?

As I'm in the strange purgatory of PhD/Work, I'm fairly flexible at the moment. Before too long though, I'll begin working Tuesday-Thursday at the HE college, and then use Monday and Friday to continue building my research profile by adapting my doctoral work into journal articles.

What's the best advice you ever received?
If you're struggling to write, just write something s*** and the next day, go back and make it less s***. It's better than ending the day with a blank page.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

QS GradSchool Guide 2015/2016

Today, I'd like to invite you all to have a look at the QS GradSchool Guide for the academic year 2015/2016. It is 128 pages full of great information for anyone considering to do a PhD, as well as for current PhD students. You'll need to sign up for a free account on the QS website - a rather painless and quick process - to access the document.

On page 17 of the guide, you can find an article for which Laura Tucker from interviewed me, as well as other bloggers who write about life after the PhD. Even though the focus of my blog is not essentially on finding employment after the PhD, I've written a fair amount about this topic as I transitioned from being a PhD student to a professor.

That's all for today - you have 128 pages of assigned reading waiting for you elsewhere ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I am Debanjan Guha Roy and This is How I Work

Today, I am inviting Debanjan Guha Roy in the "How I Work" series. Debanjan has been working as a Ph.D student since 2013 at the IITB-Monash Research Academy, a joint venture between the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), India and Monash University, Australia. His research topic is numerical and experimental modeling of the hydraulic fracture propagation. Apart from that he also has research interests in the geomechanics of the carbon dioxide sequestration and reservoir engineering. He holds a B.Sc degree in Geological Sciences from Jadavpur University (2011) and M.Sc degree in Applied Geology from IIT Bomby (2013). Both his B.Sc and M.Sc educations were supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST)-INSPIRE fellowship. He is a recipient of Duncan A. McNaughton Grant from American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and Star Fellowship from Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) during his Ph.D. He has been a national level coordinator of the “Energy Technology Vision 2035 student initiative”, 2012. This student initiative worked as a parallel body to the Technology and Information Forecasting Assessment Council (TIFAC) of Department Govt. of India working on the ‘Technology Vision 2030’.

Current Job: Dual-badged Ph.D candidate at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (India) and Monash University (Australia)
Current Location: Mumbai, India
Current mobile device: HTC Desire 500
Current computer: Compaq

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I am a third year reservoir geomechanics Ph.D candidate researching the hydraulic fracture propagation modeling. Due to the dual-badge and multidisciplinary nature of my research, I am being jointly supervised by faculties from Dept. of Earth Sciences (IIT Bombay) and Civil Engineering (Monash University). I am also a Teaching Assistant (TA) conducting Engineering Geology practical classes of the Applied Geology and Applied Geophysics masters’ students.

My work focuses on the experimental and numerical modeling of the hydraulic fracture propagation in the hydrocarbon bearing rocks. Hydraulic fracturing (or “Fracking”) is used extensively in oil and gas industry to stimulate wells and enhance oil and gas production. India, which is the fourth largest energy consumer in the world, holds nearly 500 to 2000 trillion cubic meters of shale gas across several sedimentary basins. And this huge resource can only be exploited using hydraulic fracturing. So my project aims to first establish the geomechanical and fracture properties of the hydrocarbon bearing reservoir rocks (e.g. – shale, sandstone) from India under different temperature, pressure and saturation conditions. These data will be then used to model the single and multiple fracture propagation in the reservoirs under varying geological conditions. The fracture propagation modeling will be done using the advance “Cohesive crack zone” technique under finite element method and extended-finite element framework. By doing so, we wish to come up with the critical findings related to the production capability of the hydrocarbon bearing basin, required pressure for the fracturing, geometry and growth pattern of the fractures etc.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I do majority of my work on my office PC. Dropbox is an indispensable tool for my research. I use Skype/GoToMeeting to hold regular meetings with my supervisor and research committee members in Australia. Most of my writings, presentations and data analyses are done using MS Office suite. I use Corel Draw to prepare the diagrams. Apart from data analysis, I use MS Excel extensively to keep a project overview, details of the journals and conferences and maintaining a back-up contact detail. I also regularly maintain a Lab journal, which is particularly useful during brain-storming ideas and reviewing past works. I use Google Tasks and Google calendar to make to-do lists and to maintain my schedules. I use Rapportive plug-in in Gmail; it helps to get quick professional details of the contacts in an email directly from their LinkedIn profile in the Gmail.

While working from my room, many times I use TeamViewer to access my lab computer. This is particularly useful for keeping an eye on the simulation running in the Lab computer.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I mostly work in my university lab, where I sit with other Ph.D students at different stages of their research. The environment is quite open and conductive. It is particularly helpful to have quick and impromptu meetings, and to reach out others for help. I try to keep my desk neat and clean, but somehow papers and other documents keep piling up. While conducting experiments, I keep some of my rock samples on my desk for quick measurements. I also have important notes, charts and tables regarding the project progress, experiments and simulations attached on the wall behind my office monitor for quick reference.

Here is a picture of my desk:

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
From my Ph.D experience, I have learnt that setting realistic goals and being persistent on the effort are particularly important to get meaningful research work done. It is also useful to have a hobby and maintain a support group (close friends) to get yourself re-energized after long hours in lab and to get help during the times of depression. And for students collaborating with different institutions, keeping all the stake holders regularly updated about the research progress is a must. It helps getting draft papers/manuscripts reviews quickly from all the authors.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?

I use MS Excel to keep the overview of my PhD work as well as research objectives. This is periodically reviewed and updated with progress. On daily basis, I use Google Task and Google Calendar to make to-do list. Apart from them I use many virtual sticky notes on my lab PC.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
Persistence is the skill that makes me stand out. Since, I do a multidisciplinary project which is mostly different from my background, so I need to learn many new things on my own within a short period time. Also I believe I’m very flexible and open to new ideas and that is very advantageous.

What do you listen to when you work?
I prefer complete silence during writing. But, during data analysis I listen to either instrumental music or songs of James Taylor and The Carpenters.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
Reply: “Courage and Conviction: An Autobiography” by General Vijay Kumar Singh. I am a not so regular reader. I mostly read over the weekends.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I am an ambivert person. I love talking to people on the subjects I like, but I need some quiet time to get my thoughts together and to review my day.

What's your sleep routine like?
I’m very strict about my seep routine. I go to bed at 11 p.m. and wake up at 5.30 a.m.

What's your work routine like?
Since I’m an early morning bird, so I get much work done before getting caught in the daily ramblings. My day starts with checking my emails and twitter. It is followed by reading a book or writing a part of my ongoing paper. I try to reach my lab by 9-9.30 am and leave by 5.30-6 p.m. My evenings are varied in nature and mostly spent learning programming language or drawing doodles.

What's the best advice you ever received?

It is not possible to be best at every possible thing. Better to choose only few things and try to be best in that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interview with Anna Hulda Ólafsdóttir

Today, I have a special guest for an interview at PhD Talk: Anna Hulda Ólafsdóttir. Anna is a Ph.D. student in Industrial Engineering at the University of Iceland, where she also works as a lecturer in System Dynamics. Outside of her academic achievements, Anna is a weightlifting champion and high-level Crossfit athlete, whom I've been following in her athletic endeavors for a while. She also has a 4-year-old daughter. You can find her on Facebook, Linked In and Instagram.

I always wondered how she combines her studies, teaching, family life with top-level sports, and some time ago, I approached her on Facebook to see if she'd be interested in my interviewing her - which resulted in this interview.

Can you give us a general overview of your activities?

I am a PhD student in Engineering at the University of Iceland. I am close to the finish line with my thesis and I plan on graduating in January. I recently was awarded with the international award as the IPMA young researcher of the year 2015. I teach System Dynamics at the University of Iceland. I’m a Mother of a 4 year old girl and live in Reykjavík with my husband. I compete at a high level in CrossFitt and weightlifting. I am also a CF L1 certificated and I coach at Crossfit Reykjavík.

I'm not a professional athlete so I do not have 24 hours in the day to train. I try to eat clean, mainly plant-based diet and focus my training sessions on Olympic weightlifting. I also love CrossFit and outside activities.

Current Job: I teach System Dynamics to masters students at the University of Iceland. I’m also a full time a PhD researcher at the University of Iceland. I also coach weightlifting and crossfit in Crossfit Reykjavík.
Current Location: Iceland
Current mobile device: Iphone 5
Current computer: MacBook Pro

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
My current situation regarding my PhD is that I just handed in my last paper for my PhD thesis. At the moment I’m just tying up loose ends and finishing what needs to be finished in order for me to graduate. I plan on handing everything in before I leave to South Africa in the end of November. Then I should be able to defend my thesis in January if everything goes as planned.

Regarding sports my current situation is that I injured a ligament in my right hand so I’ve had to adjust my training accordingly. I even had to say no to the invitation to compete at the world championship in weightlifting that takes place in November, and some other fun competitions. The focus for me now is just fixing my hand and get back at it when I’m all good.

In my research, system dynamics are applied to evaluate aspects of a quality management in the construction industry. The main research questions covered are the following:
1) What variables are necessary to form a dynamic model of quality management in the construction industry?
2) How can the concept of an active quality management system be defined in relation to the construction industry?
3) What is the value of stakeholder GMB approach to form a causal loop diagrams in a messy non-corporative problem?
4) Can a system dynamic model be used to assist policy making for capital investments in a quality management system?
Results were reached with a three-layered study, i.e. with a quantitative background study in the Icelandic construction industry, with a stakeholder group model building sessions with highly influential stakeholders and with a case study of a construction project in Iceland. The core model was created in the second layer, in the GMB sessions. It was then adapted and illustrated with a case study of a construction work in Iceland. The model was used to assess the benefits of processes related to the quality management system.

Could you tell us some more about your achievements in Crossfit & weightlifting?
I went to the European regionals first in 2012, and then with my team in 2013 and 2015. We made it to the finals at the Crossfit Games in 2013. In 2014 I was 9th overall in the individual competition at the Regionals. In 2015 I placed 2nd at regionals with my team and we competed at the Games as well.

I also compete in weightlifting (60kg BW). I’ve been elected the female weightlifter of the year three times in a row in Iceland (2012, 2013 and 2014). I think I have broken Icelandic records in weightlifting about 34 times now (in -58kg category and -63kg category). I was the first Icelandic female to compete in the European championship in weightlifting and the first Icelandic female that placed on the podium in the Nordic championship in weightlifting. I was the Nordic champion in -58kg class in weightlifting in 2014.

How do you manage to combine university work, PhD studies, sports and motherhood? What does a typical day or week look like for you?
I just have a clear priority list. Of course motherhood is first, then University work and then my adventures in sports.

Nonetheless I try to squeeze in training sessions whenever I can. I usually take my gym bag with me in the car in the mornings when I go to work in the hope that I have the chance to jump in the box at some point. If the opportunity comes I use it. I am happy if I can train 3-4 times a week for an hour each time.

A typical day could be something like this: I wake up and drive to the Box for a short training session, then I drive to the University and teach and also try to work on my own research. Then at 4pm I drive home and get my daughter from kindergarten and take her to Gerpla where she trains Gymnastics between 5 and 6 pm. While she trains I work on my computer. On our way home we often swing by at our favorite restaurant, Gló, and grab a dinner to take home. Then we eat and have a little girl time and I put her to sleep and around that time my husband comes home from work.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
Stella, OmniGraffle, Endnote and Kaleidagraph.

Do you have a fixed workspace, or do you alternate between a home office, university office and lab?
I alternate between home office, university office that I have and my professor's university office.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Sleep, train and drink coffee.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks? Do you use a similar method to keep an overview of your training and nutrition?
I use OneNote and my calendar to keep track of work things. I don’t really have an overview of my training but I use EatToPerform methods for nutrition.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life? Do you rely on technological tools, such as for example a heart rate monitor, in your training?

Not really.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
I guess I’m stubborn. That sometimes help.

What do you listen to when you work?

It can be one of the following, depending on where I am: Study playlists on Spotify (acoustic music), my professor thinking, my husband playing from another room.

What are you currently reading?

Only articles at the moment. I was actually reading one written by one of my professors recently that actually looks like a book. It’s in the Geochemical Perspectives, Volume 3, number 2, October 2014 called Natural Resources in a Planetary Perspective . Written by Harald Sverdrup and Kristín Vala Ragnarsdóttir.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

I guess I’m an extrovert that started up as an introvert. I’ve always considered myself as an introvert but when my mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, she passed away one month after her diagnostic and I decided I wanted to be more like her. She was what I would say an extrovert and a do-er. This life experience made myself realize how shaky life can be and how quickly it can vanish.

My mother was a real superhero, really athletic and accomplished woman and with her as a role model I try to make the best of all my days, both professionally, in sports and with my family.

What's your sleep routine like?
It’s like any other engineers I guess, hehe… terrible. I go to bed way too late and I have to wake up far too early. My husband is a musician and he often has to play gigs over the weekends and therefore comes home in the middle of the night. I’m usually up when he comes home.

What does your training regimen look like?
Train whenever I can. Try to have it about 3-4 times a week for one hour each time.

What's the best advice you ever received?
Everything is possible.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I am Navneet Vasistha and This is How I Work

Today, in the "How I Work" series, I am interviewing Navneet Vasistha. Navneet received his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Delhi. He then moved to Oxford for doctoral studies with Prof. Zoltán Molnár. He is now a joint postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Prof. Siddharthan Chandran where he studies model neurodevelopment disorders using human stem cells. When not in the laboratory, he enjoys theatre, photography, writing, travelling and cooking.

Current Job: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Current Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Current Mobile Device: Google Nexus 5
Current Computer: Apple Macbook Pro 13”

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I am researching the effects of genetic mutations on the development and function of oligodendrocytes in psychiatric illness. The idea is to find patient relevant phenotypes (dysfunctions at the cellular or molecular level) and to then screen for compounds that might reverse these and benefit patients. For this, we use stem cell derived cellular populations.
I have been at the position for almost 2 years now. I joined the Centre for Regenerative Medicine right after my D.Phil.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I usually restrict myself to basic apps but am open to experimenting with anything that would boost productivity.
I am currently using the following: MS Office for Mac, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, GraphPad statistical software, Evernote app (synced with Android), iMail (for email client).

What does your workspace setup look like?
I have a fixed workplace at the University lab that comprises of a lab bench (for experiments since containment facilities are needed) and a desk space.
I do not work from home.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
My advise would consist of the following:
1. Prioritise experiments, writing, submissions according to deadlines.
2. Plan your work a week (at least) in advance and stick to it.
3. Arrange results, references etc. in a easy to refer way by either using a good reference management software (e.g. Papers 3.0) or by putting relevant items in a folder from the inception of the study/project.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I do this two ways basically.
1. Mentally: I find this to challenge my memory skills though I often find it to be wanting.
2. By writing notes on post-its and also backing them on note taking apps (such as Evernote).

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Not really. I mostly carry my music on my phone or have it synced to my computer.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
I feel it is a grasp of the field whether it is via reading the works of others or understanding the theoretical basis of the work.
Also a critical analysis of your own work at each step is important.
Finally, it is the execution by means of performing experiments and analysis or in terms of writing and presenting work in journals or conferences.

What do you listen to when you work?
Various things. Flips between Hindustani music, Bollywood songs to Alternative Rock or Western Classical compositions. I don’t have a set list and depends on my mood and whether I want a lift-me mood or a calm atmosphere.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
I recently finished a book called “The Way Things Were” by Aatish Taseer. I usually read at night before bed or over the weekend.
However, I read a lot many things on the internet (articles, stories, news)

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I consider myself an introvert. It does influence my work habit as I end up being more self-dependent and look to evade conflict at the work place.

What's your sleep routine like?
Usually 7-8 hours. 11pm-7am

What's your work routine like?
Usually 10-12 hours. 8am- 7pm

What's the best advice you ever received?
My D.Phil supervisor once told me: “We always see people who’ve published (academically) work very similar to what we are working on and feel let defeated that someone has already got to where we planned to be. But the other way to look at it is that we were always on the right track”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: How to transition from PhD student to independent scholar

This post is part of the series PhD Talk for AcademicTransfer: posts written for the Dutch academic career network AcademicTransfer, your go-to resource for all research positions in the Netherlands.

These posts are sponsored by AcademicTransfer, and tailored to those of you interested in pursuing a research position in the Netherlands.

If these posts raise your interest in working as a researcher in the Netherlands, even better - and feel free to fire away any questions you might have on this topic!

During your PhD days, you might have the help and protection of your PhD advisor. He can give you ideas to further develop, he can tell you where to publish and which conferences to attend, and he will teach you the ropes of the research trade. But once you graduate with your doctoral diploma, you are on your own. You might benefit from the protection of your alma mater a bit if you decide to stay at the same institution, but for those of us who moved away after getting the PhD, it is time to grow up and become an independent scholar.

As an independent scholar, your peers will not see you as "the PhD student of Prof. Advisor", but they will now see you as Dr. Yourself, with your own field of expertise and your own network.

To reach this position, you will need to establish yourself as a researcher with a clear focus. This clear focus does not mean that you have to focus on a single topic. No, within your area of study, you are encourage to branch out: participate in projects with the industry, carry out desk research on tangentially related fields and broaden your scope.

To develop your own network, you need to attend conferences and industry events. Publishing helps as well, as you will typically be invited as reviewer for the journal in which you published - a way to establish yourself more as an authority in your field as well.

In the following, I've gathered a few tips and things you can think of when it comes to growing roots on your very own plot of the forest and becoming an independent scholar:

1. Collaborate with other institutions

While it is nice to keep working together with the researchers and professors with whom you worked during your PhD, it is time to discover other horizons as well. This certainly does not mean you should burn your bridges with your alma mater behind you, but it is time to broaden your scope. These institutions can be situated somewhere else in the world, could be public research institutes or could be industry partners. To more varied you can develop your collaboration portfolio, the better.

2. Outreach

You could consider outreach as a time-consuming fringe activity, but it certainly can be quite rewarding. Outreach can be blogging and tweeting about your research, it can be volunteering for charities, or it can mean getting involved in student support groups and on-campus networks. Consider outreach as an opportunity to show to world the value of your research and how your work makes this world a better place.

3. Write your own research proposals

It's time to figure out what you would like to work on further, identify the needs in that regard, and turn these needs into research proposals. It can be frightening to start your very own line of research, as you might feel inexperienced, but once you get working on it, you will feel how rewarding it is. And think of it - you can fully choose what you find interesting to work on now, without having to explore ideas that might have been imposed onto you by your advisor.

4. Become active in your research community

Review papers, participate in committees, publish your work, attend conferences - you know the drill, so do your part and volunteer to move your field forward. Showing up and working hard will show your peers that you are serious about your research field and willing to moving things forward.

5. Read a lot

Keep a finger on the pulse of your field by reading recently published papers on a weekly basis. Try to set aside a few hours a week (I know it is hard, but it is necessary) to read recent publications. Follow the important journals in your field, and read them to get an overview of which topics are being explored, and who is working on what. Then identify the papers that are of particular interest for you, and read these in more detail.

6. Pick your fights and carry them out

What makes you really thick? Canalize your energy and devote time to the causes that you think are important. Pick your fights wisely - you can't take all the worries of the world on your shoulders. Do you want to raise your voice in the way women are undervalued in academia? Would you prefer to put energy into the guidance of first-generation students?

7. Develop your own writing voice

Practice makes perfect, a saying that holds particularly true for academic writing. We could also say that practice molds your voice. You will notice that, as you gain more practice writing papers, and will receive less and less feedback from your coauthors, you will start to feel comfortable writing about your research in an authoritative voice that is distinctly yours.