Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ramblin' Man

It's said that one of the perks of academic life is travel. I can vouch for this. I'm a first-year PhD student but have already made two trips to the USA without spending a dime.

The purpose of this post is partly to gloat but mostly to convince you to take the opportunity to travel during your PhD and realise the value of getting your name and face out there on the international stage.

In October I was invited to speak at the University of California Irvine and the University of Lethbridge in Canada. (Securing funding is much easier if you can get someone to invite you!) I met Associate Professor Simon Cole, a big player in my research field of fingerprint identification. He gave me some tips on where to focus my research and his grad students showed me where they work and play.

Associate Professor Simon Cole and Matthew B Thompson
Associate Professor Simon Cole and me

I was then treated to dinner by Professor Elizabeth Loftus. I'm sure you'll know her. She is best known for her pioneering work on the misinformation effect and the implications for eyewitness testimony. Loftus sits half way down a list of the 100 most influential researchers in psychology of the 20th century (just below Posner and Broadbent : ).

Professor Elizabeth Loftus, Matthew B. Thompson, Shari Berkowitz
Professor Elizabeth Loftus, Me and her grad-student Shari Berkowitz

I also attended the Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in San Antonio, Texas. An intense week: 8 hours work, 9 hours play, rinse, repeat. The powers that be were impressed by our creation of the first HFES student chapter in the Southern Hemisphere -- HFES-UQ. Because Tobi, our wonderful president, couldn't make it (he made up some excuse) I was treated like an academic rock star by the organisers and fellow students.

Matthew B. Thompson
Morgan, Dave and I receiving an award on behalf of HFES-UQ from Assistant Professor Sandra Garrett

Despite all this nerdy stuff, I still caught a Bruce Springsteen concert in New York with my dad, got drenched at Niagara Falls and cruised down the Las Vegas strip hanging out a limo sunroof drinking beer with my mate Morgan (not on tax-payer's dollars of course).

Matthew B. Thompson
Morgan and I in a limo on the Las Vegas strip

So, get your academic persona out there and be sure to have some fun in the process!

Matthew B. Thompson

I thank HFES-UQ, NICTA and my advisors Dr Jason Tangen and Professor Penelope Sanderson who made this trip possible.

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  2. Hi, thanks for sharing your blog