Fly for the Hills   Leave a comment

On a sunny post-medical-school-classes North Carolina day, two classmates and I decided to head out for the hills of western NC. We took off from RDU, circled Duke and Durham a couple of times, landed at Rowan County airport to re-fuel, and then set off west for Avery County. There, we rented a car and hiked a couple of the local trails, notably stumbling across Linville Falls, before heading back to Durham just before sunset. It was Riikka and Qihua’s first time in a small plane, and so pictures were copious…

Fly for the Hills - Linville

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Posted 30 Mar 2016 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

Lemur Center Tour   Leave a comment

To wrap up January, the Duke MSTP and friends organized a tour of the Duke Lemur Center. This research facility houses the largest collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar. These small primates, including more than 100 species with weights ranging from only an ounce to 20 pounds, evolved in isolation on Madagascar for tens of millions of years, likely after reaching the island on floating debris washed out to sea. The tour was fantastic, and we all enjoyed interacting with these amazing creatures!

Lemur Center Tour

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Posted 30 Jan 2016 by John McManigle in Adventure

Oxford Thesis Template   78 comments

titlepageAs anyone who has written a thesis will tell you: Like it or not, at some point in the writing process, you will spend far too much time tweaking a minor formatting issue. Thankfully, typesetting tools like LaTeX can minimize this headache by providing consistent, structured formatting.

LaTeX and similar tools follow a “what you see is what you mean” model, unlike Microsoft Word, which is “what you see is what you get”. When you’re starting a new section in a LaTeX document, you don’t click bold and increase the font size. Instead, you type \section, and the engine automatically assigns a section number and format, updates the table of contents, and even adds within-document links. This all sounds complicated, but if you’ve written HTML, you know the idea. (Word power-users will reply that Word has similar tricks up its sleeve. This is true, but LaTeX explicitly separates text from layout, preventing a lot of the “gremlins” that creep into Word documents.)

Of course, this paradigm creates a significant disconnect between the text you type and the beautiful PDF document that results. This is where a good template comes in. It defines everything from how the title page is laid out to what the page header looks like in the bibliography. For a LaTeX user (and anyone writing a document as long as a thesis should be), a good template is everything. I was lucky enough to find a template that Sam Evans adapted for social sciences use based on the original maths template by Keith Gillow. I wound up making my own modifications, and re-packaged the template for posterity.

Download the Oxford thesis template here.

If you prefer, you can also view on GitHub.

Click for a few of the template’s features.

Posted 12 Jul 2015 by John McManigle in Technical

Home, via Iceland   1 comment

Having completed all requirements of the DPhil degree, it is time to come back to the States and start my last year of medical school. To squeeze in one last adventure, I booked an IcelandAir #stopover on the way home. Sabine was able to join for three days in a Nordic paradise. We were able to fit in quite a few activities thanks to the incredibly efficient Iceland tourism industry. On our first full day, we traveled to the relaxing Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa set on a lava field in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The second day was for adventure, with a small airplane flight from Reykjavik airport to Rif airport on the Snæfellsjökull peninsula and back. The mountain and glacier views were stunning.

Iceland Flight

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Posted 6 May 2015 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying, Travel

May Day Oxford Farewell   Leave a comment

After passing my viva on 10 April with minor corrections, submitting the corrected thesis on 28 April and having it approved 30 April, the only task remaining to formally complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree is submission of the final bound thesis document to the Bodleian Library. By happy coincidence, this was just in time for both Sabine’s MPhil submission deadline and May Day.

We began the morning by sneaking to Wolfson’s boat house under cover of darkness and taking an early-morning row in the double scull to Magdalen Bridge, where we could hear the Magdalen College Choir perform its traditional tower-top performance. In the afternoon, we deposited our theses at the Exam Schools and went on to celebrate Oxford courses wrapping up well.

May Day 2015 Submission

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Posted 1 May 2015 by John McManigle in Notes

Head of the River Race 2015   Leave a comment

I was somehow convinced to jump into the crew of Wolfson first- and second-boat oarsmen entered into this year’s Head of the River Race. The regatta is a head race over the Championship Course on the London Tideway. It is the same 6.8 km stretch used in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (raced in the opposite direction) and is known to be gruelling.

The weather was grey and windy, prompting the organisers to delay the start by 30 minutes while they considered whether the course was safe to row. We did manage to squeeze the race in just before the gusts turned the river truly unnavigable. Battered by wind and waves, Wolfson finished the course in a respectable 20 minutes and 2 seconds. We had an exciting overtake on Wolfson College, Cambridge, just after Hammersmith Bridge, and finished the course three abreast, placing 189th overall out of 345 entrants.

Posted 29 Mar 2015 by John McManigle in Rowing

Torpids 2015   Leave a comment

Despite predictions, after submitting my thesis in January, I did have one more bumps race in me: Torpids 2015! Without time to train during the writing-up period, I focused on coxing the women’s second boat. This was a fantastically strong and dedicated group of women, and when race week came, we pulled off something no crew of mine has earned yet: Blades! By bumping up four times over four days, W2 finished eighth in Division III as the third-highest second boat. It was also an historic year for the Wolfson women more generally, as all three women’s crews earned blades!

I also made a guest appearance in the men’s third boat when a rower was injured at the last minute, and of course did a fair amount of tannoy commentary. I’ll certainly miss Oxford bumps racing, and hope to make it back one of these days.

Click for a couple more pictures and a video of one bump…

Posted 7 Mar 2015 by John McManigle in Rowing

Adventures in Portugal: Lisbon   Leave a comment

The last stop on our Portugese adventure was Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and one of the oldest cities in the world — pre-dating Rome by centuries.


Click for the stories and pictures!

Posted 7 Jan 2015 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Adventures in Portugal: Porto   1 comment

Fresh from our Sintra travels, Sabine and I set off for Porto, a city dating back to the Roman Empire and now famed for port wine and beautiful bridges.

Port Caves Excursion

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Posted 4 Jan 2015 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Adventures in Portugal: Sintra   1 comment

After a December of intense (and often frantic) thesis-writing, Sabine and I snuck off to Portugal to welcome the New Year. We had a chance to explore Sintra, Porto, and Lisbon over our journey. Because of the outrageous number of pictures, each city will be covered in a separate blog post.

We set off on December 27, flying from Heathrow to Lisbon before grabbing the train to the historic town of Sintra. Sintra is full of history, from the medieval Moorish Castle to several nineteenth- and early twentieth-century palaces.


Click for more details and pictures!

Posted 31 Dec 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel