Advice for the Young Scientist – John Baez

Baez2_smallJohn Baez is an American mathematical physicist and a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in Riverside, California. He is known for his work on spin foams in loop quantum gravity.More recently, his research has focused on applications of higher categories to physics and other things. Occasionally, I read some advice from him for young scientists. Some practical tips are:

1. Go to the most prestigious school and work with the best possible advisor. A good advisor will give you a hot topic to work on where you can get results that people will find interesting. A good advisor will be so famous that merely being their student will cause people to be interested in you. A good advisor will go to bat for you when it comes time for you to get a job. A good advisor will be politically well-connected and lubricate your way straight to the holy groves of academe. A good advisor will also work your butt off and scare the crap out of you by expecting you to know about millions of things – don’t let that put you off.

2. Publish. Publish papers that get definitive results on fashionable subjects, so they’ll get cited. Publish papers that open up promising new lines of investigation. Publish papers that people can actually read – but don’t tell anyone else this trick, or everyone will start doing it, and then where will you be? Publish papers that show you have your own research program. Publish papers that create a shock wave the moment they hit the archive! But most importantly: publish.

3. Go to conferences. There’s an infinite number of conferences, and you should go to them. Give lots of talks, chat with lots of people, make connections, find out where the jobs are, find out what people are working on, find out what people will be working on. Have fun and be friendly. And most of all: give good talks!

Dr. Baez also gave some comments on giving good talks like time, blackboard techniques, etc. I think those suggestions are very important to young mathematicians. The details can be found by clicking here.


About Shijie Gu

I'm a PhD student of UWM. I obtained MS from University of Nevada Reno. My research interests include Geometric Topology (decomposition theory), PDEs, Wavelets, Numerical Analysis, Nonlinear Dynamic and Chaos.
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