Dynamical systems and teaching

Teaching is part of the scientific career and, this month, it was my turn to get a bit involved with it!

One of the big reasons I ended up in a scientific career is teaching. Even though it does not occupy the largest chunk of the job, teaching was one of the first things I realized I truly enjoyed doing professionally, way before I was aware of all the fun stuff about exploring the limits of the knowledge in atrial fibrillation. Back then I was teaching guitar, something I did for almost 8 years, and I always got more and more involved with it over the years, working as a teacher assistant and explaining the amazing (for me) grammar of the German language.

This month was the first time I got somewhat involved with it during my PhD here in Maastricht, and as usual, it is being a great learning experience.

I started assisting Stef Zeemering in his course “Dynamical Systems and Non-Linear Dynamics”, a subject of the master’s program in Systems Biology and closely related with one of the topics I will be exploring in Personalize AF: recurrence analysis. Even though I am somewhat familiar with recurrence, I had no idea of the vast knowledge that bases it, which means I am learning a lot along with the students.

One of the most interesting things about non-linear dynamics is how graphically it can be explained. Never has the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” been truer than when trying to understand the behavior of equations which are sometimes very hard to calculate. Tools like quiver plots and flow lines make the understanding much clearer and exciting, as you can see your system developing and changing when you play with the parameters.

Differential equations sound much more interesting when you have such a beautiful picture to go along them. Generated with Field Play

    Apart from all the formal knowledge, it has been great to have the interaction with the students during the practical sessions, which are mostly related to programming. Not only is it a good opportunity to see new faces during the pandemic (even if online), but also it is a very stimulating challenge to try to explain concepts you are sometimes very familiar with. After having been programming for years, it is easy to forget that people often do not know some everyday tricks.

This opportunity to help with teaching hands on is probably the first of many others, and I hope they can all be this interesting and enjoyable. Next month, I will change roles again and come back to the learning side during the second Personalize AF Program Training, which was planned to be here in Maastricht. Sadly, we will have to wait a bit more to meet each other in person again.

In any case, we will certainly keep you updated about the training program in our blog posts throughout March and April. Meanwhile you can check some recent posts from the other ESRs (like this nice post from Teresa on arrhythmia in cells and tissues). Also, be sure to follow Personalize AF’s social media and subscribe to our newsletter here!

See you soon!