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Anyone here change from experiment to theory during the PhD?

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  • Thread starter wotanub
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm a 3rd year graduate student doing atomic physics experiment. I was thinking of changing my group to do theoretical biophysics for a few reasons. Did any experimentalist here change to theory? What was the transition like?
 

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  • #2
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I did (I also changed schools), basically it meant I was in grad school about a 1-2 longer than I would have been otherwise. I only published one experimental paper, but I guess you could say it makes my publication list a little unusual (since then I've done some work in biotech and added a few more papers that don't really fit the field of my PhD). I had already taken a pretty wide range of the grad classes available so it didn't require any additional course work. It wasn't a big deal, I just changed schools (and obviously advisors). The main thing is the time that, at least from a certain perspective, was wasted.
 
  • #3
Dr Transport
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Experimental optics (quantum well spectroscopy) to Boltzmann Transport Theory.....i.e. Hall effect in an-isotropic semiconductors
 
  • #4
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How did you guys get acclimated to the new work? Was there a lot of studying before you could actually contribute in a meaningful way? I'm not really sure how theory works.
 
  • #5
Dr Transport
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How did you guys get acclimated to the new work? Was there a lot of studying before you could actually contribute in a meaningful way? I'm not really sure how theory works.
I always had a tendency towards theory, so the switch wasn't too bad for me. Even while doing experimental work, I spent time writing the code to predict my results and to guide my quantum well stacks......
 
  • #6
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How did you guys get acclimated to the new work? Was there a lot of studying before you could actually contribute in a meaningful way? I'm not really sure how theory works.
It was pretty much a non-issue for me, I had taken the graduate courses that were available and had done some independent study on my own. As far as I can tell that's pretty much the same preparation the other theory grad students had. The only difference for me was I spent/wasted time doing something else. I think how quickly you can start contributing depends what course work you've done and it depends a lot on your advisor and what kind of problems he suggests to you.
 

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