Seminars of Roel Snieder

Professional Development Workshops and Seminars

Technical Seminars

Talks for a General Audience

Biographical Sketch

The seminars listed below can be given upon request.

Professional Development Workshops and Seminars

Workshop: Research skills for graduate graduate students, postdocs, and other junior researchers

Research is an activity that must be learned. In this workshop we cover skills needed to be effective in a research career. These skills include the following:
In this interactive workshops we choose from the topics above based on the interest of the audience. I teach this material in different forms; as a semester-long course, as a short course of a few afternoons, or as a single one-hour seminar. 

The book The Art of Being a Scientist, that covers most of this material is available from Cambridge University Press.

Title: Professional development education for graduate students and other young academics

The current model for training researchers is very much like the medieval system where an apprentice follows a master for years of training. This model gives graduate students valuable hands-on experience. What often lacks in this educational model is an explicit transfer of skills and information at a rate and moment in time that is effective for acquiring research skills in a timely manner. This contains  practical skills for doing research (e.g., choosing a research topic, what to do when being stuck, oral and written communication) as well as skills that are needed for a successful professional career (such as negotiation, teamwork, time management, ethics). This material can be delivered through a combination of courses and workshops. In this seminar I present examples of the delivery of material and share best practices for delivering professional development education.

Title: Professional development education of science and engineering students

Much of the education of scientists and engineers focuses on disciplinary skills. These skills are essential, but there are many reasons why these disciplinary skills needs to be complemented with a broader skill set. In almost any type of work that scientists or engineers do, written and oral communication is essential. Since science and engineering are not value-free, it is important that students develop a moral compass that guides them in their career. (In fact, the National Science Foundation mandates ethics training for students that are supported by the NSF.) Lastly, the state of mental health of students gives reasons for concern, and it is important that we offer students adequate tools for self-management and wellbeing. I will present the approach taken at the Colorado School of Mines for expanding the education of scientists and engineers beyond disciplinary skills, and the opportunities and impediments encountered in developing and implementing this broadening of the education offered.

Title: Living the life of the modern researcher

We live in an age where working in science or engineering offers tremendous professional opportunities--the pace and progress of scientific development is truly breathtaking. Yet many researchers in the sciences, social sciences, and engineering struggle with the pressures of the fast-paced academic workplace, and struggle to harmonize their work lives with their personal lives. In this conversational and interactive seminar we will examine some of the attitudes, beliefs, and habits that influence the way we give shape to our career and that may affect our wellbeing.

Workshop for graduate students: Working with your Adviser

In this workshop for graduate students we cover the opportunities and pitfalls in working with your advisor. There is no such thing as the "generic advisor." Different advisors have different styles, and different students have different needs. We cover the different supervision styles and how these might serve the needs of different students. A positive work relation between graduate students and their advisors is essential, and it is important that expectations between student and advisor are matched. We will discuss these expectations--what is reasonable and what is not--and provide a tool that helps streamline the collaboration between student and advisor. Lastly we will cover options a student has when the collaboration with an advisor does not go well.

Workshop: Effective Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is an integral part of professional life. Negotiating a job contract is one of the first things we do (hopefully) when leaving school. While in graduate school, or on the job, numerous occasions arise where we need to negotiate, and it is important that we can stand up for our interest by effective negotiation. Yet many of us are not comfortable negotiating, or don't know how to negotiate. In this workshop we  explore internal barriers we may face to enter a negotiation. We will cover the basics of negotiation, which involve knowing what you want or need, and conversation methods that encourage the other party to move towards your needs while maintaining a positive dialogue. Lastly we discuss simple practices that help you become more comfortable with negotiation.

Workshop: Time Management

Do you wish there was a 25th hour in the day, or an 8th day in the week? Many of us are so busy that we have a strong sense of not being able to get things "done." In this workshop we cover steps that may alleviate the pressure we feel of there not being enough time. We cover a tool to analyze how to prioritize our time and make wise choices, we discuss why many many of us then to take on too much, and why we may find it difficult to say "no" to new activities. We also discuss a number of tangible steps that help manage our activities while us more productive in our work.

Workshop: Driving research by creatively asking questions

Abstract: Questions are the prime driver of research because they are invitations to answers. Knowing the main questions to be addressed for a research project is usually not enough because the main question often is too broad to lead to specific actions. In this seminar we discuss the importance of questions in research, different ways to generate research questions, and ways to order questions so that they naturally lead to a workplan for research.

Workshop: How to (Not) Give a Truly Terrible Talk

Did you ever listen to a presentation that was poorly delivered, where you felt you were wasting your time? It happens, and when it does, you don't want to be the speaker doing the delivery. In this workshop we will compare the same talk when presented in two different ways and use this comparison to get clarity on the do's and dont's of oral presentations. After attending this workshop you know the importance of telling--and repeating--a story, the basics of effective use and design of slides, and how to use your voice and body for a compelling delivery.

Workshop: Teamwork and How to Combine our Talents

Good teamwork is more than just combining forces so we can get more work done. Good teams consist of members with diverse skills and characters, and their members know how to exploit this diversity by turning it into a strength instead of a weakness. Doing so requires an intentional effort because differences in team members can lead to disfunction when not handled properly. In addition, intelligent people of good will often do stupid things when working in a group (the stupidity paradox). In this workshops we discuss  opportunities and challenges in teamwork, and give participants insights in their strength and weaknesses while working on a team.

Workshop: Conflict resolution

Despite our best intentions conflicts do occur. In fact, conflicts sometimes arise and grow because our reluctance or inability to have a "difficult" conversation at an early stage before it festers and then erupts into a conflict. In practice, conflicts develop according to a repeatable and predictable pattern. In this workshop we discuss this pattern using a conflict between a graduate student and advisor as an example. Perhaps more importantly, we discuss how during every step of the escalation the conflict might have been de-escalated, when the help of others is needed, and what form that help might take.

Title: Value-Based Ethics and the Moral Compass; from Preaching and Teaching to Reaching

Professional ethics education in science and engineering is often based either on telling students what proper ethical principles are (e.g., professional codes of ethics) and/or by teaching the philosophical theories of ethics. Although there is a value and purpose for both types of teaching ethics, these approaches alone are not effective to bring about ethical engagement and behavioral change unless the materials are embraced and internalized by students. Instead, we propose that effective ethics teaching includes connecting to the personal values of students. But often we are not aware what our values really are; we need to reach out to them. We will explore the concept of values, and do an exercise to help us get clarity on what our values are. We will then explore how these values might shape the daily professional practice of scientists or engineers.

Title: Ten ethical questions for scientists and engineers

Science and engineering in the broadest sense not only help us better understand the world in which we live; these fields also increase the power that we hold over the world. Unfortunately, neither science nor engineering comes with a recipe how to use that power. This idea is captured by the writer Goswani* who states that "Creativity unguided is a two-edged sword. It can be used to enhance the ego at the expense of civilization. One must apply creativity with wisdom." Helping students grow the wisdom how to use science and engineering responsibly is one of the goals of teaching ethics. In addition, students benefit from learning how to make ethical decisions in the daily practice of science. Ethics training is now mandated by the National Science Foundation for all students and postdocs that are supported by this organization. In response to this requirement, the Colorado School of Mines has developed the graduate course "Introduction to Research Ethics" (SYGN502).

* Goswani, A., The self-aware universe, Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, 1995.

Title: Diversity in the research environment

The modern research environment is increasingly diverse. This is partly due to increased globalization, but within the United States and Europe this is also due to a change in the demographics. This increased diversity poses challenges and opportunities for optimally collaborating and communicating. The increasing international diversity of research groups is, unfortunately, not accompanied by an increased participation of US minorities in research. I present some of the roadblocks that hamper an increased diversity in research that include lack of knowledge or appreciation of other cultures, deeply ingrained prejudices, fear, social inequality, and perhaps most importantly, an inability to see and appreciate our common humanity. Identifying these impediments may help remove or overcome them, so that we can take advantage of the cultural and intellectual enrichment of a diverse research environment.

Title: Teaching the class "Science and Spirituality" to college students

At many universities, conversations about spirituality are relegated to the personal realm. Yet, there is a deep need among some  students to have conversations about spirituality in the environment where these students also learn disciplinary skills. This has led to the development of the undergraduate class "Science and Spirituality" at the Colorado School of Mines. This class is a mix of historical, scientific, and spiritual perspectives and includes experiential exercises. Instead of striking an intellectual or academic tone, the class is aimed at providing a rich personal experience. Students appreciate the opportunity to dive into the subject with fellow students. The topic has the potential to lead to controversial encounters, therefore setting the right tone--based on dialogue and respect--as well as building trust in the class, is an essential part of teaching this topic. In this seminar I will present the scope of the class, my experience of teaching this class, a set of best practices, and an example of class activities.

Technical Seminars

Title:  Variations and healing of the seismic velocity

Interferometric methods in seismology have made it possible to detect time-lapse changes in the seismic velocity with an accuracy of about 0.1%. I will show examples of detecting velocity changes in the laboratory, the earth's near surface, and in engineered structures. Perhaps surprisingly, the seismic velocity is not constant at all, and varies with the seasons, temperature, precipitation, as the weather does. In addition, the seismic velocity usually drops as a result of deformation. Most of these changes likely occur in the near surface or the region of deformation, and a drawback of using strongly scattered waves is that it is difficult to localize the spatial area of the velocity change. I will present laboratory measurements that show that a certain spatial localization of the velocity change can be achieved. One of the intriguing observations is that after deformation the seismic velocity recovers logarithmically with time.  The reason for this particular time-dependence is the presence of healing mechanisms that operate at different time scales. Since this is feature of many physical systems, the logarithmic healing is a widespread behavior and is akin in its generality to the Gutenberg-Richter law.

Title: Focusing waves in unknown media
In many applications, such as imaging, one needs to focus wavefields. In general one needs to know the medium to focus waves, and limitations on the properties of the medium can hamper adequate focusing. In this presentation I show a method to focus waves in an unknown medium. The method is based on inverse scattering methods as originally developed in quantum mechanics. I show, using simple examples, that the so-called Marchenko equation provides the Green's functions that accounts for the wave propagation from the acquisition surface to any arbitrary point in the medium. These Green's functions account for the wave propagation in the unknown medium and can directly be used to focus or image waves.

Tutorial: seismic interferometry, who needs a seismic source?

Seismic interferometry is a technique for imaging without coherent sources. The idea is to combine waveforms, generated by ambient noise, that are recorded at different receivers in a way to provide the waves that would propagate between these receivers as if there was a source at one of these receivers. This obviates the need to have a soure located at one of the receivers. In the tutorial I cover different formulations of the theory that explain seismic interferometry, and present examples with field data that show the possibilities that are opened up with this new technique. With the advent of permanent networks of seismometers in exploration seismology and global seismology, seismic interferometry opens up new methods for imaging and time-lapse monitoring.

Title: Extraction of the Green's function from ambient fluctuations for general linear systems

The extraction of the Green's function of acoustic and elastic waves from ambient fluctuations is by now a technique that is theoretical  well-described and that has succesfully been used in different applications. I show theoretically that the principle of the extraction of the Green's function can be generalized to a wide class of linear systems.  These new applications include the diffusion equation, Maxwell's equations, a vibrating beam, and the Schroedinger equation.  For systems that are invariant for time-reversal it suffices to have sources of ambient fluctuations on a surface that bounds the region of interest. When the invariance for time-reversal  is broken, as for example in the case of the diffusion equation or for wave propagation in attenuating media, one also needs sources of ambient fluctuations throught the  volume. This work opens up new opportunities to extract the Green's function from ambient fluctuations that include electromagnetic fields in conducting media, flow in porous media, wave propagation in attenuating media, monitoring of mechanical structures, and quantum mechanics.

Title: Extracting the building response from incoherent waves

Structures such as buildings or bridges are often instrumented with accelerometers to monitor the vibrations. Since the excitation of these structures usually is incoherent, these recordings do not directly give the impulse response (the response to an impulsive loading) of these structures. I show how seismic interferometry can be used to extract the impulse response from a building from incoherent vibrations recorded in a building after an earthquake. I also show that depending on the data-processing that is applied, either the propagating waves or the normal modes of the buliding can be retrieved. With this apprach the response of the building can be separated from the coupling of the building to the subsurface. In this seminar I show the theory and apply this to the motion recorded in the Millikan Libary in Pasadena (California).

Title: Coda Wave Interferometry

Multiple scattered waves are not very useful for deterministic imaging in complicated media because there is no known algorithm to construct such an image. Because multiple scattered waves have long wave-paths, these waves are very sensitive to small changes in the medium. Coda wave interferometry is a new technique that can be used to detect minute changes in a strongly scattering medium using changes in the multiple scattered waves over time. This technique is analogous to speckle pattern interferometry as used in optics, but takes advantage of the phase information in recorded waves. Because of its modest hardware requirements, coda wave interometry has a large number of applications. These include geotechnical applications (dam-monitoring, tunnel monitoring), the evaluation of hazards (volcano and fault monitoring), non-destructive testing, locating earthquakes, and monitoring of hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Title: Time-reversed imaging as a diagnostic of wave and particle chaos

Chaotic behaviour of particles concerns the stability properties of trajectories under perturbations of initial conditions. For waves, chaotic behaviour is less clearly defined. Both Newton's law and the Helmholtz equation are symmetric under time-reversal. This means that particles or waves emitted by a source at t=0 should refocus on the source when their propagation is reversed in time. Chaotic behaviour will prevent this to occur. This idea is tested for a system of very strong scatterers through which particles and wave propagate. Analytical expressions are derived for the critical perturbations of the initial conditions of both waves and particles. It is shown that the resulting behaviour of waves and particles are fundamentally different with critical length scales ranging over 15 orders of magnitude. The analytical results are illustrated and confirmed by numerical simulations.

Talks for a General Audience

Title: Hydraulic fracturing, a tale of two continents

Hydraulic fracturing has recently revolutionized oil and gas production. The public concerns about this technique are significant, to an extent that limits the use of hydraulic fracturing in many regions. In this presentation I discuss these concerns and show that the societal response to hydraulic fracturing in North America and Europe is very different. But one can argue that on both continents the democratic decision-making process is broken down, albeit for different reasons. The result of this breakdown is that we are not asking ourselves the tough questions that we ought to ask ourselves. This is a presentation is for the non-specialist.

Title: Facing the main challenges in Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Capturing CO2 and injecting it in the subsurface is often seen as the main tool to prevent man-made global warming. The following questions must be answered before this process can be used on a scale that actually makes a difference in preventing climate change. (1) How can the cost of this process be reduced from its projected cost of 150 billion dollars per year? (2) How can this the capture and injection be up-scaled with a factor 1000 beyond current capabilities? (3) How can we predict and monitor leakage? Many action alternative to carbon capture and sequestration likely to be much cheaper and save energy as well.

Biographical sketch

Roel Snieder holds the W.M. Keck Distinguished Chair of Professional Development Education at the Colorado School of Mines. He received in 1984 a Masters degree in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Princeton University, and in 1987 a Ph.D. in seismology from Utrecht University. In 1993 he was  appointed as professor of seismology at Utrecht University, where from 1997-2000 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Earth Sciences. Roel served  on the editorial boards of Geophysical Journal International, Inverse Problems, Reviews of Geophysics, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the European Journal of Physics. In 2000 he was elected as Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He is author of the textbooks  "A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences", "The Art of Being a Scientist", and "The Joy of Science" that are published by Cambridge University Press. In 2011 he was elected as Honorary Member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and in 2014 he received a research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2016 Roel received the Beno Gutenberg Medal from the European Geophysical Union and the Outstanding Educator Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. From 2000-2014 he was a firefighter in Genesee Fire Rescue where he served for two years as Fire Chief.