2014: an intensive start

2014 is less than 3 weeks old at the time of writing this post, but already my head is spinning from what I’m currently trying to do, as well as what lies ahead in the next 3 months. I’ve tried quoting the late Michael Winner to myself (‘Calm down my dear!’) with mixed success, but sometimes writing it all down helps put things in context, so that’s one aim of this post.

After a fairly quiet first few days of the new year, I had 3 days of frantic activity corresponding to the visit of a research collaborator. Like me, he works in a university and has a full teaching and administrative load, so the times when we can get together to work on research are precious. We managed to deal with the referee’s comments on our latest paper, which has now been accepted, and to plan new work. So it was a successful if exhausting time!

Having recovered, it was time to turn my attention to some new teaching I’m doing this coming semester. It’s on X-ray diffraction, which (almost unbelievably), I’ve never taught before. I’m excited, if nervous at the prospect, but with 2014 being the International Year of Crystallography, it couldn’t be better timed. Also on the teaching front, we’re redesigning our Chemistry course, and it’s the turn of the 3rd year this year. So I’m leading a proposal for a module on Materials Chemistry and Catalysis, and contributing a Quantum Chemistry section to a new Physical Chemistry module. This has involved some administration and preparation of proposals, which is still ongoing. I should also mention that we are currently half way through our autumn semester exam period, and I will have marking to do soon.

In parallel with teaching preparation, I’m now trying to complete another research paper with my Brazilian research collaborators, which I aim to submit in the next few days. Once this is done, there are another couple of papers awaiting my attention. We also have to write abstracts for a conference in the summer, but the deadline is 1 March, so there is still some time for that.

For about a year now I’ve been trying to help a student at the University of Hannover with some fairly complex materials modelling work, and her PhD supervisor has invited me to their next group meeting, on 7th February. So I’ll have a quick trip to Hannover, which will need a talk to be prepared. Fortunately I have a talk that can be updated fairly easily, but it still takes time!

Finally, I have some exciting activities ahead on the musical front. My two current orchestras both have trombone-intensive programmes in their March concerts, so some practising is needed at some point. I’ll post more about these later, but on 8th February, immediately after my quick Hannover trip, I have a workshop to attend on Borodin’s 2nd symphony, which is an exciting piece.

That’s about it for now. I think the reasons for my spinning head syndrome may now be apparent, but writing it all down has helped a bit. My Twitter and Facebook feeds will document the next few weeks, and I’ll post an update here when I have time.

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