Michael Lam

Departure Date:
Jan. 23 2015
Return Date:
Mar. 09 2015
Local Institution:
Cornell University
Local Advisor:
Jim Cordes
Foreign Institution:
Foreign Advisor:
Michael Kramer
Student Status:
  • Q. What country were you staying in? Bonn, Germany.
  • Q. What university were you attending/doing research at? wasn’t a university but a research institute. I was at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
  • Q. How long were you there? Six weeks.
  • Q. What sort of research were you doing? was working on different aspects of estimating single-pulse stochasticity and estimating the amount of error introduced into our timing models.
  • Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing? Not really, but I think it strengthened ties between myself and a lot of pulsar experts in the community, especially many of my direct collaborators with whom I’m working on projects at the moment. And it’s already led to some on-going and future work as well.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad? the research side: being part of a massive group of so many experts in the field. On the personal side: getting to be immersed in a completely new culture.
  • Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language? Moin confused me for quite a bit
  • Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad? Finding my way around was a bit of a challenge at first because the subtle differences in how things worked (such as mass transit) was enough to throw me off. I got the hang of it pretty quickly though and was fine after that.
  • Q. What did you do in your free time? did a lot of running, which allowed me to see a lot of the smaller, neighboring villages, the forest, a lot of the Rhine River, etc. I had a fun time exploring around the area.
  • Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen or done while abroad? got to walk around Rome for a few days and even got to eat dinner in between two major protests, which was a pretty unique experience.
  • Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen or done while abroad? got to see a former radio astronomy student I worked with years ago, who is now a musician, who just happened to start a tour around Europe while I was there. Go figure!
  • Q. What advice would you offer others going abroad? Make sure you know exactly where you are going and exactly how to get there.
  • Q. What skills have you learned abroad? learned a lot about the methods used by our collaborators in the European Pulsar Timing Array and got to compare notes on procedures and research strategies.
  • Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known? wish I had a bit more language preparation. I knew a little bit going in but didn’t have a lot of time to learn enough to be comfortable. If I were going back, I’d definitely give it a stronger effort.