Academia
Quick Hit: 100 Days of Divided Attention

Quick Hit: 100 Days of Divided Attention

The week before the 2016 election, I proposed my dissertation. I had ambitious goals and I was ready to put in the work to achieve them. A December 2017 graduation date was in my sights. But on November 9th, I entered into an unfamiliar brain state: constant, low-level panic. An itching feeling that I needed...
Quick Hit: Bad Advice from a Bad Mentor

Quick Hit: Bad Advice from a Bad Mentor

As anyone in a PhD program knows, your experience is highly dependent on your relationship with your advisor. We discussed in our earlier post, How to Choose a PhD Advisor, ways to hopefully make the “right” (best?) choice. While there are many advisors in the world, not all can be called mentors. The difference is...
What should an intro to machine learning course look like?

What should an intro to machine learning course look like?

As we gear up for another semester, once again the “Introduction to Machine Learning” course offered by CMU is filled to capacity, with a long waitlist to boot.  It has become overwhelmingly one of the most popular courses for graduate students at CMU – several departments even list it as a required course. Why so...

Podcast Roundup

Welcome to 2017!  For me, 2016 was the year of the podcast.  I started listening to several Machine Learning and Academia related podcasts.  Here’s a quick round-up of my favorites from the past year… Machine Learning Focused Partially derivative – This one is good if you’re new to ML, as it assumes very little background...
On Failure

On Failure

“Enduring a discussant’s dismissive comments on his paper, the grad student is amazed her neck is not dislocated from talking down so much.” Image and caption from http://legogradstudent.tumblr.com/ Watching Hillary Clinton concede the election last week was a sobering moment for us at Brainy.  Hillary had been working towards the goal of becoming president for a...
Organizing Research Papers with Mendeley and Dropbox

Organizing Research Papers with Mendeley and Dropbox

As academics we spend a lot of time reading, and a lot of time procrastinating.  At one point, my favorite procrastination activity was obsessively researching the “best” way to organize research papers for reading (instead of, you know, reading them).  I’ve had many systems; some paper based, and now mostly electronic.  I’ve finally settled on...
How to choose a PhD advisor

How to choose a PhD advisor

Image from PhD comics www.phdcomics.com At CMU, and around the world, it’s that time of year again: when the new students pick their PhD advisors. Nicole and Alona both share the same PhD advisor, and both had the chance to work with other advisors before CMU.  Choosing an advisor is a tricky and important first...
Doing a PhD is like training for the Olympics

Doing a PhD is like training for the Olympics

Alona: I’ve had this theory for a while now: doing a PhD is like training for the Olympics.  Given that we’re in the midst of the 2016 summer Olympics, we thought this would be a great topic to discuss on the blog. The idea came to me maybe halfway through my PhD, when I was...
Hello

Hello

Brainy was borne out of the rapport we (Alona & Nicole) built during our time as lab mates while pursuing PhDs at CMU with Tom Mitchell.   We are both interested in the practice of science. We do science for a living, but we also love to think (out loud) about how to do science well....