Posts tagged MS-thesis

Learning From Negative Results

I posted previously a little about my MS thesis.  It’s finally completely done and fully published.

My project started out with the objective to build better models for human emotion, using a standard set of features derived from peripheral physiology signals.  These signals are considered to be indirect, but still valuable, measurements of activity in the brain.  Having more detailed models for how emotion exists in the brain could have impact on research in psychopathologies.  Prior work with standard statistical analysis showed some differences in the measurements that correlated with the different emotions.  The problem that I was to address was that the measurements were only weak predictors of the specific emotions.

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My Master's Thesis Experience

I knew during the fall of my senior year that I wanted a PhD.  I finalized my decisions after I started exploring schools to apply to and working on my personal statement, but I knew then that was what I wanted.  I applied directly to PhD programs.  In the progra I ended up in, when we enter without a Master’s degree we need to fulfill the MS requirements as a s subset of the PhD requirements.  We have two options, we can fulfill the MS credits as 8 courses or 6 courses and a thesis.  I want a PhD because I want to do research, I enjoy research, not because I want to take classes.  I like learning and discovering, of course, but coursework isn’t how I learn best.

I chose to write the thesis.  I also had started to feel like I was at a dead end with my research.  We had tried a lot of things and nothing gave good results.  Nothing even gave hope that a different model would work.  Everything I did said to me that we were asking the wrong type of questions from the data.  I used the MS thesis as an opportunity to write it out and get my advisers on the same page.  I also realized how disorganized I had been about research to that point.  Writing the thesis made completing the MS requirements take longer than I expected.  Two classes I could have taken last spring.  Then I could ahve completed the MS and walked in May, like I planned.  However, I think this experience has made me much more prepared for the remainder of my PhD.

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