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(53) Research on MUSIC: Research with music.

This post is dedicated to all supermen and superwomen out there that manage to combine 2 passions, at which they are both good at, in their everyday life. And this my friend, is a setar.

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Please welcome my multi-talented friend, Nasser Davarzani!

Music helps me to focus better. Sometimes when I don’t have motivation for work, I bring my level of concentration by bringing music. It cheers me up.

My PhD research is about the application of statistics in medicine. Last, but not least, I sing and play Iranian traditional music.

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(and no, this is not a presentation for a conference 🙂 Nasser singing, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Research in music

How research helps you advance with your music? When somebody is working with traditional music, it’s important to know about the history of the instrument and  culture of its country.  You must know about the specifications and abilities of your instruments if you are going to play with another instruments. It helps you  to know with which instrument you can combine it.

Is important to know about the structure of the music and about the instrument itself. It helps you to know more about your instrument and how to mix with other instruments. Knowing more about the history helps you more.

You are a PhD student in statistics while you play professional music, how does that work?

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Source: http://www.actuallywecreate.com/music-work
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UGI team, Maastricht University, Netherlands

Music and Research

Every day I work till 18.00 at the university and then I go to music school and practice 1 hour singing, it takes a lot of energy but when I go out I feel re-energized. Then I go home and I practice 1 hour for my instrument.

At least 2 hours of practice for me is a kind of meditation, because all I think about are the notes, music, voice and sound. Sometimes I close my eyes, and I feel my body fully present in the music. The only thing I think about is the sound and the word I should pronounce and the lyrics that I sing. Iranian music is mixed with very old poems and which are full of spiritual concepts. When you sing these kind of poems, you without thinking go into this kind of spiritual mood and you don t think about the world that you live in.

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Karlsruhe, Germany

Most of the time, Iranian music full of love stories and spiritual concepts and unconsciously when you sing these kind of things you feel it fully with your body and to really sing it best you need to understand what you sing and it helps you to go more deep into spiritual things.

 

Post written by Nasser Davarzani, PhD at the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering, also Researcher at the Department of Pathology of Maastricht University and the student of one of the best instrumentalist and composer of Iran, Mr. Hamid Motebassem.

With love for Research,

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(29) Researchista Public Launch + Board Game launch.

Intro: When life gives you lemons… It was the last year of my PhD.

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I was so exhausted of editing, writing and thinking. My brain was boiling and flowing over its borders. Long hours in front of my laptop were not helping my RSI, neither to find a job. All I had to do in the last phase of my PhD was to: FINISH. I was so tired at that stage that there was hardly room to think of what I wanted to do in the future, but I felt that for me to go on, I needed to distract my attention on something that will make me feel good, something that would give me a perspective of what I was doing. After so much hard work, I did not want my thesis to stay dusty on the shelves and forget about it in a year. So, I thought to make a Board Game out of my PhD thesis. 

As if.. as if… that would give me a job or would have made me a better Researcher… But I knew that I had a point of view inside me that I was urging to come out. So I called ‘Leo’. Someone who was divorced and sad, with 2 children whom he could not see and slightly unemployed. While slightly looking for work, he would have had much more free time at hand that I did, and most importantly… he was so good at games.

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The story: I don’t know if you have ever tried to develop a work project On-Line, meaning with someone who lives in another country, but in this project, I felt like I was on earth and the other person was on the moon and we were trying to somehow make each other understood with much precision, but there were always some things left out. On top of it, when you finally reached your ‘Online partner in crime’ and have calls like:

– Irina, I might be going to prison, so let me call you back in the afternoon.

– Oh, to prison! Ok, no problem, call me when you are done”

you understand, you are on probably on the right track… of.. life, full of challenges.

Please welcome to my online partner in crime, Leo (he does not like to be taken pictures, this is his dog). Without his help, I would have never figured out these rules and make a Board Game out of my thesis. He is extremely bright, but was never lucky with his degrees. An inquisitive mind, growing up when Soviet Union collapsed, which made him unlucky for many years. I called Leo to help me because he was good with gaming, he thinks fast and he had time. The only thing he was missing was the ability to be there on Skype appointments or be accessible on the phone, which is pretty much in what an ON-LINE partnership consists of…which made my mission most of the time impossible.

Phase 1

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In the last phase, Leo found his Lionette

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and the communication went so much smoother and with her help, we managed to test life and online multiple times the game and make it happen.

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Phase 2

So, here it is, the game has real countries, real flags, real average wages in that country (average wage is not the minimum wage, is how much money on average people receive in that country), real average taxes for those wages.

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Important: it is impossible to have in highest precision all the numbers, because the situation can vary by case and the taxes also. For example, a family can be taxed differently in different countries; but these are as close to reality of 2015 as possible.

These are “MOBILITY ERA. Play your taxes!” points:

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So here it is… after more than 2 years of Online and life communication attempts, after few times quitting and thinking it will never happened, it happened. Maybe one day I will tell you on how the entire game was designed in 24 hours…but I let leave that for another time 🙂 .

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The first version of the game will be launched and available for you to take home at PAS Maastricht Festival, where Arts meets science! This is where I will reveal what is Researchista actually about and what was that ‘urgent urge urging’ out of me before finishing my PhD.

 

With love for Research,

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(16) Anxiety during PhD (2): prevention is the key.

As symptoms of anxiety can hold you back enormously in your career, it is essential to open up the discussion about this topic and to share knowledge and tools that help you manage and prevent anxiety. This blog/video is made with the goal to help you as a researcher to feel good and achieve great results in your career. This is not in any way a replacement of medical care and if you experience severe anxiety symptoms, make sure to contact a medical professional.

As a Researcher you might worry about your future, about your next paper and whether or not you will make the deadline. You are constantly envisioning what could potentially go wrong… As a result, the body and mind starts to respond as if there is a real threat.

Your body is actually preparing you to run away as quickly as possible. After a while you might start to experience anxiety symptoms such as :

  • Panic attacks
  • Racing heart
  • Quick breathing
  • Excessive worrying

Combined with other circumstances, such as not enough sleep, unhealthy food and products such as coffee and sugar, it not so surprising that you are experiencing these symptoms. That is why prevention is key!

Symptoms of anxiety are completely normal. They can happen to everyone, at any time.  It doesn’t mean you are weak or not strong enough. First of all I would advise you to not focus too much on anxiety. Where attention goes, energy flows. So if you focus a lot on the symptoms, you are directing your attentions towards it.

You can learn to direct your attention as much as possible to feelings of trust and feeling good, while at the same time managing the symptoms of anxiety you are experiencing.

https://vimeo.com/166627150

In this video I am going to give you a number of easy lifestyle tips to prevent anxiety. Then I am also going to tell you more about a method that can be very beneficial to stop your worrying mind – and prevent anxiety on the long run.

 

By Daniëlle Branje,

Health Researcher & Trainer/Coach

 

Sign up and receive a feel good email: http://www.daniellebranje.com 

 

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(15) Anxiety during PhD (1): an introduction.

This introduction probably summarizes it best: “I want to tell you right away that you will not find an answer to the question above in this short blog piece, but I am sure most of those involved in PhD studies asked that question at least once. We all think we are so strong, tough, resilient, and adaptable, but somehow PhD gets under our skin, penetrates our brain and produces irreversible changes (and often not good ones) on physical, emotional and mental level” (Dr. Aksana Chizjevskaia).  Another PhD says: “we want to come across as super heros, but we are humans as well”.

By raising this topic, Researchista hopes to not fall in the ‘victim trap’, but to present some facts that makes one wonder why is this the case. Studies show that in the Netherlands at least 36.5 % of PhD students suffer medical depression. The situation in the UK does not seem to be brighter, 64% of PhD students (aged between 18-34 years) are feeling in isolation (more statistics here). What are the statistics in your country?

It was by chance that I found out that some PhD students do actually take anti-depressants. It is one thing when people randomly say they are ‘depressed’ because of heavy work loads, but when you friend tells you she takes anti-depressants to cope with her PhD, it might shake your world.

The special Guest Blogger of this month is Danielle Branje, she supports young professionals and business owners to create a meaningful and inspired career & life without sacrificing their body, mind and soul. She will try facilitate the work process of those who struggle with anxiety at the moment.

https://vimeo.com/166611795

 

This month is entirely dedicated to health issues that Researchers might face. On ResearchistaFacebook & Twitter we try take some actions, join us by sharing the posts with those who might struggle.

With love for Researchers,

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(14) Writing & no RSI.

Intellectual work demands a lot of energy and effort. Apart from eating a lot of nuts and chocolate for brain, one also needs to be fit to be able to stay long hours in front of the computer. Someone told me once, a PhD student with no particular health problems was so exhausted from writing (typing) that was not able to hold a cup of tea anymore. He had R S I…  find out here what that is. RSI happened to me also, for a while I had no power in my arms/hands at all. I learned later that one of my colleagues even had surgery to both of her wrists and that RSI stays for life.

So, what to do if you have RSI? Do not avoid to ask for help from friends/family at times like this, you might make it worse by forcing your arms and do everything yourself.

Adjust your work station to your body parameters. Every modern institution/company is equipped with ergonomic chairs, etc. By the way, if you work at Maastricht University an entire department is dedicated to such questions. It works a bit like an ambulance, upon request they will visit your station (asap) and explain everything, maybe give you an ergonomic mouse or keyboard. Here is how you can contact them, fast and painless.

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photo credit: internet.

Visit a physio-therapist… First thing I did was to go see a physio-therapist who could unblock the pain in my arms and shoulders. There are so many services in Maastricht, I went to Jasper’s Physio Therapy  and found a really nice doctor, who said smiling that she was having an entire PhD crowd enrolling to her sessions, especially the last year ones.

When you are back on track, join Researchista and Backforward to strengthen those muscles, do sports – the best proven remedy against RSI. One full-year discount voucher to all Researchers in Maastricht and neighbouring areas is offered to you as of today! 😀 Download it here and present it at your first session.

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Certainly “the evil is not so black as it seems”, keep calm and carry on. RSI compared to other issues is probably minuscule, yet is good to know about it and prevent on time, so that you can hold strongly that cup of tea and make that lemonade out of those lemons! 🙂

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Palma-de-Majorca, Spain (2014)

Stay RSI-free!

With love for Researchers, R.

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(13) Writing and RSI (my story)

Ah, PhD life…  So, that’s me and another PhD going to Spain, Palma-de-Majorca. Tasty food, beautiful beach, warm sand and refreshing breeze from the sea.

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This is me and my sister going few months later to Japan, in Tokyo & Yokohama, where I attended a world congress; thousands of researchers gathered there.

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Not too bad.. indeed, I could not complain. The only difficult thing to show in these pictures is that I was not able to do much with my hands. My arms were just hanging attached to my shoulders, but were not very helpful.

It was my last year of PhD. I was so exhausted that I had to take this trip to Spain if I wanted to finish my PhD thesis. My friend was helping me out so that all I had to do, was to relax and restore. Whereas in Japan, I planned to go months beforehand, it was a World Congress which I simply could not miss. Maybe I would have met my future employers there, such events are valuable for future perspectives. My sister was my personal little helper and tourist guide, has been a long trip.

I was fortunate to be able to get away and get better, but there are many PhD students who are not that fortunate, also they or/and are not aware that they struggle with RSI. A PhD, a Post-doc or a Researcher in general is doing a lot of writing (and editing, editing, editing, editing) which in its turn could cause…

Repetitive strain injury  – an injury caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions.

2Repetitive Strain Injury

 

What happened next? What is all the fuss about it?… to be continued next Monday!

p.s. Big thanks to all my friends and family who were there for me when needed.