Jeremy Côté

Bits, ink, particles, and words.

Good Questions

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I present my work. When a family member or friend asks what I do, the interaction tends to look like this:

Them: “So, what do you do?”

Me, looking away and mumbling: “Research.”

A long pause, and then them: “Teacher?”

Wrong, but close enough. “Sure, in a way.”

But I’m a scientist, not just a teacher. Working on puzzles is what I do. So I want to take a crack at describing what I do, and what I don’t do.

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Finding the Story

Science is a game of exploration, but it’s also a game of communication. If you make a groundbreaking discovery but you lack the skills to communicate it, your discovery won’t amount to much. I suspect most scientists will agree with this sentiment. Communication is important if we want our results to diffuse into the broader community. We also need to communicate when applying for grants and scholarships, or otherwise selling the value of our work. Each time we answer the question “Why does this matter?”, we’re communicating our values.

And yet, we don’t teach the art of scientific communication. Instead, we rely on students figuring things out as they go. We expect graduate students to just “level up” from writing laboratory reports and essays as undergraduates to writing papers for the scientific community. Not only is this a tall expectation, I think we miss out on communicating we should value when writing.

I’m thinking about this within the context of my own PhD. I’m done my first project, and I’m in the stages of writing. Despite my love for writing, there’s no doubt this process has been the most tedious and exhausting part of the project. Through multiple drafts, rewrites, and so much editing, I want to discuss the topic of finding your story.

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A Quantum Summer

After spending a long time on my PhD projects during the past year, I wanted to break away from them and work on something new. That’s why I applied to the Los Alamos Quantum Computer Summer School (I’ll call it QCSS now). The summer school was in its fourth edition, and was virtual like the one last year.

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The SATisfying Physics of Phase Transitions

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about the following equation.

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