Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's going to be crazy months ahead for me as those heavyweight tasks are flowing in one by one. First I am charged with the commissioning run task force to figure out the missing muons and then I have to co-prepare the Experimental Operational Plan (EOP) and then to give a talk for the Operational Readiness Review regarding the data analysis plan for the muon anomalous precession frequency. All these responsibilities in addition to job applications, funding applications, manuscript preparing, data analysis and student mentoring, my life can't be busier.

Ok, back to work.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Revival post

I can't believe it took me more than 2 years to create a new post here. It could mean I was either very lazy or very busy. It is a mixture of both.

I have gained a lot of experience working in my current group and in the Muon g-2 collaboration while I was absent from this blog. Long story short, my current responsibility is to co-coordinate analysis effort of the collaboration. I guess I will share what it means for me in the next occasion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Update from Seattle

Why Seattle? It's simple, I have been living here for almost half a year.

I have decided to take up a postdoc position offered by UW after writing the previous post regarding my interview experience. Lots of things have changed since then, and I am doing okay right now in Seattle. I must say that the culture here is quite different from what I have experienced before. For example, you are not allowed to drink on the street, alcohol is prohibited in the karaoke box nearby the university, right-turn is allowed during red traffic light unless stated otherwise, and so on ....

Research wise I am very happy to be entrusted with several important tasks for the collaboration. Having experience in both hardware and software has been my dream since undergraduate and today finally I have the chance to experience a nice mixture of 50:50 in my daily research work.

I spent a majority of time on the muon beam injection and storage studies for the first two months and it worked out quite well albeit some bugs in the geometry implementation and tracking in the EM fields. I didn't expect the injection scheme of this experiment to be this complicated but I am glad to learn many things related to the dynamics of the muon beam in the storage ring such as coherent betatron oscillation and fast rotation.

In terms of hardware development, I am working on a beam monitoring system consisted of 3 consecutive fiber array detectors. This is something I have been working on since my ETH days so it's a good continuation of work for me. And of course I have learnt much more about the amplifier circuit for the SiPM compared to before, such as the dynamic range of the VGA. I am involved also in the QC of the SiPM board for the calorimeter. This is perhaps for the first time I have to design an experiment from scratch. It's hard of course, but it is also very rewarding at the same time. Because of it, I get to expand my familiarity in the Autodesk Inventor program for mechanical drawing, to expand my knowledge in the electronic department, such as flashing LED using super narrow pulser, etc. Hopefully I manage to characterize all the SiPMs within the allocated time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Postdoc Interview Experience

Finally my postdoc hunting season is over and it's time to share some of my experience. Usually to have a chance of promotion in the academic path, you will need to prove yourself in a field with different specialization than your current PhD. For example, in the field of experimental particle physics, hardware development-emphasized postdoc work if you have been working mainly in the software environment during your PhD work. But of course some of the work will still involved the current expertise that you have, so that you get to learn new skills and to polish and apply the previous skills that you have acquired. For these reasons, I have applied to the research groups working on physics different from what I am working on at the moment and also as diverse as possible in terms of the skills required.

There are about 4 topics coming up in my mind, which involved neutrino, neutron, anti-proton and muon particles. Quite wide isn't it? Each of them has different physics motivations and the similarity among them is that all of them are trying to answer the big questions about our universe - where is another source of CP violation, why neutrino is so light-weight, how symmetry are the matter and the anti-matter, and so on ...... Expertise that are required by the positions span from Monte Carlo simulation and offline data analysis to constructing an ion-trap and calorimeters. As diverse as the topics and the skills, the workplaces are also quite far away from each other, Switzerland, UK, Japan and the U.S. Even though staying at the same place will save you a lot of time moving around and settling down to a new environment, there are many unforeseen incident happening and in the end I will be going to the place furthest away from my current city.  While not mentioning which university and which group I have applied to, I would like to share some of the important things that I have learnt from my 4 postdoc interviews (2 face-to-face and 2 skype).

1) Keep your talk within the allocated time
I did a mistake during my 1st interview where I was a little bit slow in presenting my works.
Even though I managed to finish 1 of the projects and in the middle of the 2nd project I am involved in, this doesn't leave a good impression to the interviewers. Thanks to this experience, I did better or to say finished everything within the time limit and everybody was happy.

2) Never put any words that you don't fully understood on your slides
Usually there are not many people who is trying to test your knowledge about your field, but according to Murphy's law, anything can happen! I got a sharp question during my 3rd interview, well more than one question, and I wasn't expecting the questions to come in those directions. Luckily I managed to compensate it with my answers to many other questions but still it is destroying my mood. Thanks again to this experience, instead of taking them away, I have invested even more time trying to understand the concepts that I have been understanding only on the surface.

3) It's obvious but ask more about your future work or experiment
This point I believe will give a very good impression to your future boss/group that you are really interested to work in that project with them and you have done your homework. Usually the detail of an experiment is not fully covered in the publications and thus you should be able to figure out what are the questions to be asked. Asking about the schedule of the experiment is also very important as it shows that you are considering seriously the possibility of working in the group and incorporating the time schedule into part of your life.

4) Discuss with the people around you who you are close to (be it before the interview or after)
This is also extremely important to know what is the option of your colleagues regarding the future projects you are interested in. Since postdoc has the time limit and pressure to accomplish highly within 2-4 years, it is wiser to choose projects which can be done within the mentioned time span. As a fresh PhD graduates, very often it is difficult to judge where a given project can be completed within the allocated time. Consulting more senior members in the group will be the better idea and you need to be prepared that the opinions are usually 50:50 and you will have to make your own judgement. You are becoming an independent research now after all!

As a conclusion, don't be afraid of approaching people whom you are interested to work with. I have talked to more than 20 people since Feb this year and I get to know more about what's going on in my current field and also the other fields. Even if it doesn't work out for the 1st postdoc, you might be working together with them in the near future as a collaborator! So, make more friends and enjoy doing research!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Next destination

It has been almost 10 years since I left Penang to study abroad and now I am living in a place where I could never thought of 10 years ago. Osaka (1),  Kyoto (4), Tokyo (2), Zurich (3) are great cities that I have lived in, and now I am again at the moment of deciding which destination to stop by in the coming years.

From Osaka to Kyoto was a tough one. Most of my friends were going or at Osaka, and I have made a decision to go to Kyoto University for my undergraduate studies instead. For the exposure I had and the colorful life I experienced living in Kyoto International Student House, I have no regret. 

From Kyoto to Tokyo, I was quite sad to leave a place that I have been liking for the past 4 years. I lived quite near to the University, and the surroundings were full with Rahmen shops which are my super duper favorites. However, it is still too early to say which path would be better for my scientific career, ATLAS group of Todai or T2K experiment of Kyodai. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the choice now, as I have met many nice friends in Tokyo and also my current girl friend!

From Tokyo to Zurich, this was decided rather faster than I could imagine. I was worrying that spending too much time on computing and analysis would narrow my career path, and decided to have a look on some job platforms online. I must say that I was looking at the right timing as I have the job that I am working right now, which I enjoyed very much, and also thanks to a Swedish master student in my institute for her supports and advices during my application for the position.

So what's next? From Zurich to? Even myself has no answer. Be it US, be it Japan, be it Europe, there are mountains of tasks waiting for me for the coming months. Do my best! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

It has been 6 months since my last post and this shows how "busy" I was.

First of all, in July I was accepted into the Telejob group of AVETH and have been working in the IT team to support the job platform and Telejob website. Even though I am working as a researcher in Physics and aiming to continue in the academia, there is no harm to learn about the working environment of somebody outside of academia. The Telejob is like a small private business where everybody is coming from different background hoping to learn from each other on how to manage a business. This is certainly very beneficial for PhD students who are working most of the time in a small group and highly specific topics, to extend their social network and horizon. I have also learnt a lot from the IT team about PHP framework Symfony, JavaScript and also managing database using mysql. I am enjoying the work!

After spending a weekends with my high school friends in Venice, I was spending most of the time attending seminar, conference and workshops, from ETH to Linz in Austria and PSI. It was for the first time that I have presented something about my main project "Phase space compression of positive muon beam". I was quite nervous at the beginning, but managed to explain smoothly after several practices and discussions with other physicists.

After resting for several months, the season of Badminton is finally coming back again. The Swiss Badminton League is usually being played from September to the March of next year. Since last year my team was at the bottom of the table in League 3, this year we are demoted to League 4 and our target is to top the table and go back to League 3 again. Since I have stopped playing every week for quite some time, my first league game was quite rusty but somehow managed to score 2 wins in men singles and men doubles. And currently I am ranked high C3 after beating two C2 guys in December 2013 and January in 2014. B3 is my target this year and hopefully I am able to reach it.

In September when the semester starts, I have signed up for a course named Space geodesy. It was all about mapping the physical quantities of the Earth, such as gravity field, drift of the continents, etc. At the beginning I thought it was only about the GPS, but as the course going on, there were much more interesting stuffs being taught: different types of tides, different ways of measuring distance, orbits of the satellites, etc. It was really an eye opening class for me and I believe it will be of future use for me in my career.

We were happy to have friends visiting again in October, where we visited Rapperswil (3rd time!) by ship and Titlis for the first time. The lake view from ship was nice as usually, and the Titlis mountain was great as everywhere was covered with snow. We had Raclette party one night, and another dinner at the famous Zeughauskeller to show them some typical swiss foods.

In November I have attended an interesting workshop "2nd International Workshop on Antimatter and Gravity". It was held at the University of Bern which is just next to the train station, and I get to know many physicists who I have seen only their names before. The faces didn't match the names most of the time though.  I wasn't giving the talk but I have prepared the talk together with my boss so it was great to receive some feedback regarding it in preparing for my thesis defense. Since I am quite new to this field, it was quite a good chance for me to have a glance of whole field.

December was quite an eventful month for me as I have attended KIZUNA meeting for past Japan scholars to share experience and to exchange information, Annual meeting and dinner for Institute for Particle Physics, visited Google Zurich for the first time hosted by a Malaysian friend working there, Christmas dinner organized by AVETH and Telejob (plus year end bonus!), Telejob retreat to Mulhouse, France, and of course year end trip to Italy (Rome, Florence and Pisa) with my dearest one.

Oh, and not forget to mentioned about the new year eve party held at my flat with my student gang in Zurich plus their friends. The foods were great, the games were fun and the people were nice!

A few days after the new year came my first Ski in Switzerland in Sattel, and I managed to recall what I have learnt last time at Nagano in Japan during the ICEPP symposium 2010. Hopefully there will be more snows this year and I can ski until May to minimize the cost/use. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hiking at St. Moritz

It has been quite awhile since our (a gang of phd students) last hiking trip together. Initially planned for Creux du Van which requires very high physical fitness, we have decided to change our trip to something moderate, St. Moritz Emerald trail, Grisons-Lombardy stage 1, due to the rainy weather recently.

St. Moritz lake
Woke up 5 in the morning, (perhaps the earliest of the year) we departed from Zurich HB heading towards Chur and then St. Moritz, and it took us 3.5 hours! Since we were moving in a large group (of 9 people), it was quite an challenging task to get the seats where we can sit together. We managed to do it for the Zurich-Chur trip, and almost did it as well for the Chur-St. Moritz leg, only to find out that the seats were reserved. As the train was quite short, we had to separate into 4-5 groups and were sitting with our backs facing the front, for 2 hours! I spent most of the time sleeping though, as it was quite uncomfortable and I was sleepy anyway.

Soon after our arrival, I was certain that this hiking trip is going to be a great one - what picturesque scene of mountains, lake, and gentle sun. We started our hike by walking around the St. Moritz lake before going slightly uphill to the mountain lake, Lej da Staz.
Lej da Staz
Its color was almost black, in a contrast with the St. Moritz lake which was blueish. We spent some time for technical breaks and followed the route suggested by the website towards St. Moritz Bad. The landscape was a great remedy for us who have been living in the cities for a long time, and the forest was full with lots of interesting flora and small animals. We kept on going for like one hour and reached an Olympic ski jump site. It looked like an abandoned place with the grasses growing wild, but should be awesome when it is covered with all the snows during the winter time. After a few minutes walk, we arrived at Lej Marsch and conquered an area near the lake to begin our picnic. The floor was very soft and the soil was somehow wet. We can even trigger an earthquake by just stomping on the floor.

Olympic ski jump
After our lunch break, we moved on to the next lake, Lej Nair, which was pretty small. Along the route we started to see more "civilizations" and beginning to return to the normal world. Since we still had some time to spare, we jumped into a local restaurant to enjoy some ice creams and beers while enjoying the sun and mountains. It was really a nice place to enjoy your life after retirement and we even joked that everyone of us can buy one unit each of the apartment there. Then we can become neighbors and do hiking together. Ha, I am not sure if I could afford a house at a place like this in Switzerland!

small waterfall with stones around
Recharged with energy, we continued our journey to the lake Silvaplana and walked past Crap da Sass castle. There was also a small waterfall with lots of vertically aligned stone arranged by somebody. As the rain started to pour, we have decided to get back to the St. Moritz station instead of walking for another hour to Sils under the rain. Everybody was tired like hell and even fell asleep on the way to the train station. We used different route back, passing Lanquart before reaching Zurich.

Since we have spent "lots of energy" for the hike, we have decided to award ourselves with a dinner at Ah Fatt's place. As usual, we finished a tableful of foods within an hour and finally reached home after spending 18 hours outside.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Geneva day trip

This trip was kind of decided 2 months ago, but I just realized about it one day before. And it turned out to be a great one. Instead of visiting the place, it was actually to meet my ex-colleagues from Univ. of Tokyo who are now working at CERN on the ATLAS experiment.

Life is really unpredictable I must say, as I would have ended up working at CERN for my PhD under the same group as my master's lab. Due to my eagerness to try out something different and also my tendency of moving around (like from Osaka to Kyoto and to Tokyo in Japan), I have gambled my future to do my PhD at a place unknown to me at the time, Zurich in Switzerland. And of course I am glad that I have made this choice as it has changed me tremendously in terms of my perspective about physics and society and also extended my network over the world.

Geneva Lake
After meeting them, I am glad that they are doing well in their researches and going to graduate soon. Even though I will be later than them as I am not in a hurry or so. And I am not regretting as well to be not involved in the Higgs boson searching group, which I was assigned to during my master. I am not working on something BIG either at the moment. But I am enjoying it, so do my friends enjoying their analysis works.

We had a great time having lunch together talking about our labmates when we were at Tokyo. It is pretty amazing that everybody is still working towards what they planned to do a few years back, and nothing is stopping them right now. This is truly scientist mentality or Japanese tamashi?. :) After the lunch, out of the sudden, we walked towards the Geneva lake and entered the public swimming area. And guess what? We rented swimming trunks and jumped into the lake! This is perhaps the 2nd random stuff I have done after the 5-minute-decide-to-go-Vienna trip. It was freaking hot these days and I was completely relaxed after the swim.

Lake Parade
On the way back, I was lucky? to bump into annual Lake Parade of Geneva and had some fun time screaming together with the crowds while watching those fancy parade tracks. Next time it would be them coming to Zurich visit me, as they are leaving to Japan soon for their thesis writing. They will most probably be at CERN again next summer but God knows where I will be next year.