Find-a-team, find-an-expert networking for WFIRST

by Jane August 4, 2015

As a community service, we here at AstroBetter would like to help you form teams that will compete for slots on the WFIRST Formulation Science Working Group.   The solicitation focuses on teams rather than individuals.  It’s not clear to us how experts in certain specialties are supposed to learn what teams are forming, or how […]


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Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments

by Jane August 27, 2014

Is your department welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees and students?  You should care about the answer.  Institutions that are viewed as unfriendly to LGBT people are at a competitive disadvantage. When LGBT scientists leave our departments to work at other institutions, our students, our scholarly communities, and our own research suffer. […]

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10 things not to say at work

by Jane August 18, 2014

A long time ago, I borrowed a camcorder* and taped myself giving a practice talk.  Then I forced myself to watch it.   It was excruciatingly awkward.  Every dumb pause, every verbal tic, every “literal” that’s figurative, every “uh, well, um”, gets magnified when you hear yourself.  Ouch. But doing it, and repeating every few years, […]


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How does an astronomer break into data science? Interview with Dr. Andrea Leistra

by Jane January 29, 2014

Data Science is a rapidly growing field, with natural opportunities for astronomers moving to industry.  Recently, we’ve heard from  Jessica Kirkpatrick about becoming a data scientist at Microsoft: part 1 and part 2.  We’ve also heard from Stephanie Gogarten on switching to biostatistics at UW. Let’s pick up where Jess and Stephanie left off, and […]


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How to improve the winter AAS meeting? (2014 edition)

by Jane January 15, 2014

We’ve had a week to recover from the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).  Let’s talk about what we thought worked, what didn’t and how we can improve the “Super Bowl of Astronomy”?   (Last year’s discussion got 57 comments; this is a topic our community feels strongly about.) What did our Society do […]


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Advice for Applying to Grad School in Astronomy?

by Jane November 4, 2013

On the AstroBetter Wiki, we’ve compiled advice about grad school in astronomy. What should a student know when deciding whether to apply? Where should she apply? What should she ask when visiting? We link to several informative pages, including my “So you want to go to grad school in astronomy?” page. There is also the […]


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Learning to Accept Rejection, the Likely Outcome for Most of our Proposals

by Jane October 28, 2013

The other day a postdoc told me that his big telescope proposal was rejected. He’d also gotten a rejection letter for a scientific fellowship he’d applied for.* He seemed really bummed out. I felt bad for him — rejection is a bummer. As a co-I on the proposal and one of his letter-writers, I was […]


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How to improve the AAS meeting?

by Jane January 11, 2013

Two thousand astronomers are dragging themselves home from an exciting but exhausting 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Long Beach.  After we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep and some strong coffee, how about we discuss what we thought worked, what didn’t and how we can improve the “Super Bowl of Astronomy”?   […]


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Remote display in python? [Ask Astrobetter]

by Jane December 31, 2012

The question:  “How can I remotely display python graphics windows?” The backstory:  I’m gotten used to the nifty interactive graphics of matplotlib in ipython.  But here it is New Year’s Eve and I’m working from home.  I need to ssh in to my desktop, run python, and remotely display the python graphics windows to my […]


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Practicing for phone interviews

by Jane August 8, 2012

Let’s talk about phone interviews. Whether you’re to be interviewed by a reporter about your recent press release or by a prospective employer, you can employ the same preparation strategy. I learned this strategy in a media training class*, so I’ll talk first about media interviews, then how to adapt the method for job interviews. Here’s […]


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