This year has been an exceptionally productive one, partly due to many things from the previous few years accumulating, and partly because it was a long year of hard work. I formally completed my DPhil at Oxford (though my Thesis was submitted last year). I had 13 papers accepted for publication, and several more have been submitted. We made several trips to Edinburgh, Cambridge, and Cardiff to meet with collaborators, as well as St Andrews for a conference. Finally, we have spent the last part of the year back in New Mexico, and will return to Oxford in just under two weeks time after a long break (as we haven’t visited home in three years). Many of these things were the culmination of last years’ work, though some new projects and collaborations occurred within this year.
I am incredibly grateful to many people for having made this year so successful and productive, and I look forward to another year of doing science, as well as teaching and mentoring students. This has also been a good year for the latter, as I’ve co-supervised a number of projects in various areas, and will continue to do so for the next few years. I’ve also had the opportunity to do a small bit of public outreach in the form of two “Research Case Studies” discussing work from this year: Constraining Nonequilibrium Physics and Following up Turing. Blogging, on the other hand, has fallen by the wayside as I’ve only posted once this year before today. I did manage to draft about eight other posts, but it may be some time before I complete any of these.
Scientifically I’ve been very fortunate to now have several collaborations and many questions to pursue over the next few years. These collaborations range from projects with experimentalists working on mice models at the Roslin Institute (known for cloning Dolly the sheep) and recent work on E. Coli with Microsoft Research, to several different theoretical projects. Most of my research is concerned with patterns in time and space, and fundamental models of how such things emerge from simple dynamical rules (which can ideally be related to biological or physical processes). Going forward I hope to learn as much as I can from my experimental colleagues in order to really get a sense of the biological and physical processes, and to use this insight to think of new ways of understanding complex phenomena. I have been increasingly interested in statistical physics, and non-equilibrium processes more generally (both in terms of transients of dynamical systems, and ways of understanding systems driven away from thermodynamic equilibrium). There is a huge amount of work I have yet to absorb in these fields, but I find the questions exhilarating.
Research has and will dominate most of my energy for the next few years, though I do want to do some blogging or other “outreach” kinds of things as I move forward. Finding the most meaningful medium is a bit difficult, but I do think such things are valuable. I plan to have a post about pedagogy, as well as a statement of teaching philosophy, posted sometime next year (which may be in the spirit of the Lament, though with perhaps a more positive outlook). Later on I plan to properly teach myself some areas of mathematical physics and dynamical systems, and may post notes here as a way of absorbing things for myself. I have been very lucky in my endeavours so far, and I hope to maintain a good commitment to returning that investment.