Found this really awesome blog today–I love having a window seat when I fly and I REALLY love using that opportunity to check out sweet geology down below, especially when flying over the western U.S. Can’t wait to check it out more (and write a post later)… in the mean time I’m off to teach the last labs of the semester!
Oh hey there unintended two-week blog hiatus that I don’t have an excuse for… Oops.
So even though communicating about science is actually one of my favorite things, I have to admit I was a little sick of it after last month. Or at least ready to get back to doing actual research (which was refreshing because I haven’t felt that way in a while!). So after catching up on grading and other TA-related duties, today I’m reaching into the recesses of my brain and unearthing memories of the math modeling class I took last spring, to pick up where I left off on my final project, writing a code to model helium diffusion in apatite to better quantify what the apatite (U-Th)/He ages I have are actually telling us (kind of like this guy has already done but in a way that easily meshes with other codes people in my lab group have already written). MATLAB, after several glorious months of not having to do anything too significant with you, we meet again :)
Oh and a pretty awesome video about that math modeling class can be found here.
So grad colloquium actually went really well!
- I practiced my talk enough times in advance that I felt pretty comfortable (including practicing for Oscar… I’m pretty sure he loved it)
- I narrowly avoided talking too fast (or at least my roommate said, “If you had been talking any faster, it would have been too fast… but as it was, it was good!” …okay, maybe she was just being nice)
- Poster session Friday night was fun, I enjoyed harassing people, learning about things I don’t know anything about (e.g. nannoplankton), and eating lots of food
- Sacrificing a beautiful sunny Saturday to listen to talks was also more enjoyable than I anticipated (and I even had time for a run afterwards, thankfully)
- I didn’t get any scary questions, although my labmate did ask a question that everyone thought was a plant (but it wasn’t, I swear)
So now all I have to do is make my presentation roughly 3.5x longer for geodynamics colloquium on Thursday and come up with a poster that’s geared towards a non-geologist audience for the graduate exhibition on Sunday and I’m all set! Definitely using my get-out-of-jail-free card and NOT grading last week’s labs in time for Geosc 001 this week… I think they can wait :)
Oh man… today at FemaleScienceProfessor is a great post about a “committee management method” that I’m thinking most people have probably used and/or been the victim of at some point in their lives (in my case, it’s definitely both)–the scold method (dun dun dun).
As FSP describes (probably more in depth & more eloquently than I will), the scold method comes in two modes, both involving scolding people for something they haven’t done–Mode 1 occurs when the whole group is preemptively scolded for something no one’s done wrong yet, and Mode 2 occurs when when the whole group is scolded for something one or two people have done wrong so really no one else even knows what the scolder is talking about.
FSP describes these methods being used in the context of faculty committees, i.e. faculty managing other faculty members, but I’ve definitely experienced them as a grad student. When I read about Mode 1, I immediately thought of preemptively-scolding emails I’ve gotten from administrative assistants (although as I think about it more, other examples come to mind and I’m sure I have even done it once or twice). Often when she sends out instructions for something I feel like I’m being admonished for the way I’m going to totally do it wrong (except I’m not… because the instructions are usually actually pretty basic). To me it seems pretty counterproductive because, as the scoldee, I’m immediately a little bit annoyed and offended, and while I’m definitely not going to purposely mis-follow the instructions or anything like that, it certainly doesn’t help my opinion of or relationship with this woman.
On the other hand, I can see why this method is tempting (and like I said, I’m sure I’ve used it) because it’s basically a preemptive form of Mode 2… which I am totally guilty of using on undergrads in labs that I teach. I think people do it because we’re just trying to save ourselves the future hassle of dealing with problems individually when we’re confident the same problem will come up over and over again. This semester is a great example with the whole “make-up lab” issue (basically that I was a huge softy about arranging make-up labs at the beginning of the semester, before realizing it was a huge time-suck [and being told by my friends that I was totally being had, and that these students were just making up ridiculous excuses for missing labs]); I ended up scolding ALL my students for taking advantage of the make-up lab option when in reality, the majority of them had never done this, and I think(?) most never would.
I guess the important point is there’s a fine line between making sure everyone is aware of the rules/requirements/expectations of the situation, and outright scolding them. So watch yourself.
(I’m tagging this one ‘academic culture’ but something tells me this is more of a ‘workplace culture in general’ issue…)