This week, I received confirmation that I will be able to attend the FENS Hertie Winter School in Obergurgl, Austria in December. This year’s topic is Memory Mechanisms in Humans: from Physiology to Behavior and Computational Models. This will be a great opportunity for me to expand my network and to learn more about memory on different levels and from different perspectives.
In the last months, I have been spending a lot of time and energy on finishing my PhD. Which is great. But it does make me feel a bit too focussed. This winter school comes at a perfect time: by December, I will have submitted my PhD thesis and will be thinking more about what to do in the future. I hope that meeting other researchers in Obergurgl and learning more about what some of the leading labs in the field are working on will give me new ideas and broaden my perspective again.
I finalized my poster yesterday and had it printed. On silk. Nice and foldable so I don’t have to take a poster tube. I am looking forward to the International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM) and present this preliminary, exploratory work there. I’ll be good to talk to some people and get some input.
Here’s the poster if you’re interested:
Can’t wait to hang out with Garrett Swan at Penn State. While I am there, I’ll be working on my CogSci talk…
Yesterday was the annual Heymans Symposium: an opportunity for the researchers of the different departments at the faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences to showcase their work. I re-cycled my BCN Winter Meeting poster and presented it there. It was good to talk to some people that you see in the building day in and day out and hear more about what they’re actually working on.
We arrived in Heidelberg last night to attend the 58th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP). My talk was the first session this morning. I was chairing the session and gave the last talk in front of a relatively small audience. The title of my talk was “Psychometric predictors of academic performance” and I presented data that I collected in collaboration with Susan Niessen. We basically show that students’ grades (in our sample/population: first-year psychology students in Groningen) are not related to students’ fluid intelligence and/or working memory capacity. There is a promising correlation with our model’s estimated parameter but it is not significant (yet). The data collection is still on-going and we’ll see how everything turns out once we have all grades at the end of the year.
Now I am looking forward to two more days packed with talks and posters. And I hope I get a chance to explore the city a little bit…
Today, I spent the whole day at the university hospital at the BCN’s Winter Meeting. This is the annual meeting that BCN organizes (until now it was called the New Year’s Meeting). The morning was filled with a number of TED-like talks, one of them was given by my supervisor Hedderik van Rijn. Hedderik talked about the work on adaptive learning systems that I am also involved in. He advertised my poster very nicely so there was quite some interest in it and I had the chance to talk to quite a few people. Here’s a reprint of the poster.
I even ended up winning a prize for the best poster! Overall, it was a long but interesting day and it was good to catch up with a couple of people that I don’t see on a regular basis.
All the TED-like talks were filmed and will be made available on BCN’s website. So I hope to be able to report back with a link soon.
As of June 2, 2015, I am no longer the chair of the Groningen Graduate Interest Network [GRIN]. During the general member meeting, a new board was elected. I served as the chair from March 2014 to June 2015, after I was recruited by two friends who were on the board before. I will stay involved with GRIN, helping the new board to set up shop and sit in on meetings occasionally. But I am happy that I don’t have the responsibility anymore and can focus my time and energy on other projects.
Last week, I had a chance to present my work at the annual Heymans Symposium. The program was very diverse and I was one of eight speakers that were invited to give a TED-like talk. The event was also filmed and the videos will eventually be made available on YouTube. I am not sure when that will happen, though. (In the meanwhile, you can watch the videos from last year.) Here is a picture of myself presenting that my friend and colleague Edyta Sasin took:
The title of my talk was “How personalized learning can improve grades” and I am currently explaining that most students use flashcards to study factual knowledge. Then I went on to explain that using our theoretical understanding of human memory, we can build systems that adapt to the individual characteristics of the learner and are much more effective than studying with flashcards.
It was an interesting experience to prepare and give the talk. It is quite different from the types of talks I normally give because the target audience was different (staff members from all psychology departments) and I only had 10 minutes (no questions afterwards) to make my points. I was also going for the more TED-like style of telling the audience why this research is awesome and what the benefits are rather than focusing on the technical details that I work on in my day-to-day work.
I will post the video and maybe more pictures that were taken during the event as soon as I get my hands on them.
The ICCM was held for the 13th time between April 9 and 11, this time in Groningen. The event was extremely well organized and one of the organizers, Niels Taatgen, documented the conference and took a lot of pictures – all of which can be found on flickr. I took three of those to show here (courtesy of Niels Taatgen, obviously).
This is me presenting my talk “Stability of individual parameters in a model of optimal fact learning”:
And here are two pictures to show the awesome venue.
I really enjoyed the conference and had very fruitful and productive conversations. It was good to see a couple of people I have met before and catch up and it was great to meet a lot of new people. The networking was made a lot easier by the fact that I won the Allen Newell Award for the best student paper and was introduced as the award winner and got my award during the conference dinner. Most people knew my face and it was very easy to approach people and start conversations. There were two possible collaborations that might result from this get-together but they depend on funding that I do not have influence on. I will talk more about them if and when they happen.
I spent the last two days (March 26 & 27) at the annual BCN Retreat in Odoorn. The bus left from the UMCG at 8 am on Thursday and we had a full day of talks ahead of us. A little more than 60 people attended the retreat and it is always very interesting to meet other people from the graduate school – especially because there are so many that do completely different things.
After the talks and before dinner, there was a guided mountain biking tour that lasted more than 90 minutes and was a lot of fun. It was muddy and cold outside but it did not really matter: it was good to get moving after a full day of sitting and listening. After dinner, we (the PhD council) organized a bowling competition in which we randomly assigned people to groups to facilitate mingling. People seemed to enjoy it – I certainly did.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was good to catch up with people I do not see a lot because they work in different departments. And it was good to get to know a couple of new people.