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Mia’s results November 16, 2006

Posted by dorigo in news, personal, physics, science, travel.

Mia finished her tour of italian universities yesterday. In the course of a month she attended five written exams: in Rome, Udine, Padova, Bologna, and Perugia. The logic behind this serialization of PhD applications (but in Italy you rather talk about “attempts”) is that any single exam is a blind shot: even if you are very well trained and knowledgeable, you can always run the risk of being presented with a problem you cannot solve in the allotted time, or asked to write about a phenomenon you know too little about.

In the past things were even harder, because pressure from below (number of applications) was very strong, and only the very best won paid positions as PhD students. Now it looks like there are fewer would-be-researchers in Physics, probably because of the horrendous lapse between the moment you graduate and the time you get a tenured position. In times of economical crisis, the uncertainty in one’s income becomes a factor.

Back to Mia. She did well in three of the written exams: in Udine, Bologna, and Perugia. Very bad luck, since she (and I with her) rather wanted to win the position in Padova – so that she could have continued to work with me. However, she made three good oral exams in those universities, and she won a position in Bologna (7th place overall, with 11 paid positions), almost certainly won one in Udine (but the ranking is not out yet), and got 6th place in Perugia, where there are 5 paid positions. -but one of those preceding her could give it up to her, having won elsewhere.

Overall it is a nice result, and Mia should be pleased. However, tripping over the written exam in Padova was really a bad thing. I hope we can find a way to continue working together. I know she wants the same, but I will refrain from ill-advising her into solutions that favor my research rather than her career. Time will tell.



1. dsnk - November 19, 2006

You have achieved another result at this round of phd exams in italy, also if you were not aware of it.
I’ve just won phd paid position in Pisa and during my harvest for information I found your examples of dissertations (I know they are not on the cdf site anymore, but the google cache still have a copy of them. btw are somewhere else now?) and they were very useful, expecially as ispiration.
At the end the exam asked for something else, but I think I’ve to thank you anyway.

I didn’t try in other universities then Pisa (because I had already won in another place at the end of the summer, no phd week madness for me :)), but I noticed a strong decline of the number of candidates, expecially in branches of physics other than high energy. It was the same also in the other universities?

2. dorigo - November 19, 2006

Hi dsnk,

you’re welcome… Those compositions were a good training for me back then, and have been useful to many in the following years.

The decline in applications is real, and happens throughout the country. I believe it is the folding of a general diminishing trend of students in scientific disciplines -they are more attracted by information technology since it is a safer means for getting a nice job afterwards- with the effect of economical crisis in our country, which forces people to find jobs and not fool around with dreams of an academic career.


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