Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Hello Graduate students!
Congratulations to those who graduated this past weekend at Fordham GSAS! You should be so proud of your accomplishments! As parents and grand-parents across the land have said a-many times, "No one can ever take that degree away from you." Even though it is cliche to say so, that is pretty much a true statement, right? I can't think of any theoretical apparatus or perspective that would enable someone to argue with that. In the future, your dignity, pride, self-esteem, and internal moral compass may be destroyed or trampled upon, but you will still have your degree! So go celebrate that thing you earned that cannot be taken away!
With graduation vibes in the air, perhaps, for graduating and non-graduating graduate students alike, your thoughts have now turned to what happens after graduation. Whether you are just finishing your first academic year at the GSAS, or only have a little more graduate life to go, you should always be thinking about the next step; your time spent thinking about the practical applications of graduate school in the real world can be just as valuable as all of the time spent doing academic and scholarly work.
So, with this in mind, I wasn't surprised to see on Monday a feature article in the latest issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing what it is like to be out on the job market looking for a tenure track position. Entitled "The Long Odds of the Faculty Job Search," the title does not sound too promising, and the graphic that accompanies the article features a photo of a job candidate, dressed in an immaculate suit yet looking vulnerable in the shadowy light, standing on roulette wheel. Yikes! Very dark.
Anyway, what was your take-away from the article? Let me know your thoughts, dreams, hopes and desires. Share here, or on the blog's FB book page!
Hope you are enjoying your weeks between the Spring semester and summer session!! :) :) -- Liza
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Hi GSAS students! Happy End of the Semester!
To celebrate, please join the GSA in celebrating at the Spring Semester Rooftop Social, on Friday, May 10th!
It's on the rooftop patio of the Walsh Library, from 5pm to 8pm. Come enjoy snacks and beverages and a nice outdoor space! (If raining, it will be in the Special Collections Room, 4th floor -- with great views of the campus!)
And, to make things even more fun this year, I've created the first annual ROOFTOP SOCIAL PHOTO-SCAVENGER HUNT!
Below are fifteen items that you must find with your smart phone or digital camera. Get as many as you can, and interpret them however you want -- the more creative the better! Submit your photos to the blog via Facebook, with captions, and I'll collect and post the best ones!
Rooftop Social Photo-Scavenger Hunt, 2012-2013
The challenge: Capture the following on your smartphone or digital camera:
- A high-five
- Someone you met in your very FIRST semester here at the GSAS
- Someone you met THIS semester
- Someone you've never met before tonight
- An introduction
- A View
- Something "great"
- A "first"
- Your favorite _____(fill in the blank)______
- Something "inter-departmental"
- Something mixed
- Something matched
- Something finished
- Something unfinished
- A farewell
Have fun -- I can't wait to see the pictures! Congrats on completing another great semester! -- Liza
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
announced an exciting challenge for the academic, research, medical, and scientific communities: the BRAIN Initiative. BRAIN is an acronym that stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, and the initiative challenges the scientific community to develop a map of the human brain. The overarching goals of the initiative is to develop, research, and invent new technologies that will enable us to better understand how we think, process and store information, perceive, communicate, remember, and make decisions, and to help understand, and develop treatments and preventions for, debilitating brain diseases and mental health issues. Over one hundred million dollars is earmarked for grants to fund research in this endeavor for over the next ten years. President Obama said, “As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away. We can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears.”
This past weekend, the National Science Foundation (NSF) gathered neuroscientists together from around the nation and globe, in Arlington, Virginia, to begin brainstorming and planning specific goals for this exciting project. Still at an early stage, the leaders of the group are just attempting to get organized and outline specific goals, including being technologically ready for the "data deluge" they expect to get from this mobilization of research.
New York Times editorial., and this article on policymic.com suggested that the initiative would be a scientific triumph for President Obama's administration if it is executed properly and efficiently. Huffington Post writer Daniel Burrus outlines the reasons that this project is so important for all of us, in economic, medical, and social terms.
timid, vague, or hazy. But, thinking about the Human Genome Project generated a huge return on its investment ($140 return on every $1 invested), I can't see this as anything but a positive, exciting move. Daniel Burrus is one thousand percent correct in his illuminating advocacy for the project.
And, from a graduate student perspective, this is amazing news. New projects in neuroscience, neurobiology, medicine, neurochemistry, computer science, technology development, nanoscience, speech, language, and communication will all be launched -- and funded -- as a result of this initiative. What an amazing time to be in or entering one of these fields, and what a rewarding and significant global project to devote your graduate studies to!
Let me know what your thoughts are about this exciting initiative. What would you study? How does mapping the human brain affect your area, and what do you imagine we might gain from BRAIN?
Have a great day, GSASers and Grad.Life Readers!!
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Hello GSAS blog readers! Happy May! Boy did April go fast; I hope you enjoyed the blogs over the past month and the past semester. Indeed, it is the the last couple of weeks of our semester here at the GSAS, and likewise in most graduate schools around the country. And tomorrow, May 3rd, is the GSAS Awards Ceremony to be held at 4pm in the Duane Library. Congratulations to all award recipients, fellows, and achievers of all kinds! You've really outdone yourselves this year! Don't forget to send your achievements in to the Students Achievements Submission Page by Friday, May 10th!
Although it is spectacular outside today in the NYC area, I myself today am not feeling well... which prompted me to think about a "sick day" in the life of a graduate student. While most professionals have sick time built into their schedules -- albeit not always easily taken -- graduate students do not have this same structure. For graduate students, a sick day usually means a day when you are not well enough to do any work. And this often puts the said student behind the schedule of where she may have wanted to be in terms of coursework, seminar papers, research, teaching, grading, or dissertation writing. In the scope of a semester or an academic year, a "sick day" in grad.life might not mean too much or make too much of an impact. However, think about a sick day coming at the end of the semester when seminar papers are due!! Or when grading must be done and grades entered! The structure of our semesters have many of us relying heavily on the few 24 hour periods leading up to our end of semester due dates. A day of being sick -- I mean, literally too ill to do work -- at this time in the semester could be devastating and highly stress-producing.
Another thing that graduates worry about in relation to being sick is money. While insurance may apply to some graduate student illnesses, often a run-of-the-mill sick visit or a trip to Duane Reade to get over-the-counter remedies means an extra wallop taken out on the meager paychecks that we receive. All this adds to the stress of getting sick.
Yet, in the grand scheme of things, getting a cold or a 24-hour stomach bug or a migraine headache is not the end of the world, and actually may put things in perspective and make us realize how precious and fragile our health and clarity is in our lives. There are much worse things that could happen to us than a 24 hour stomach virus. Hopefully, I will be on my feet again soon, doing the usual grad.life stuff: running around the campus, grading, writing, researching digital archives, scanning, post-it-noting, copying, typing, and dropping off and picking up I.L.L. books (<--which eerily spells out the word "ill"!!!) ;)
Whatever the case may be, I wish you health and happiness on this beautiful May spring day.
And, of course, here is the May edition of the dissertation blues:
The Dissertation Blues
By Joy Zitelli
May is a month of memorial
this project is gonna need a tutorial
on Monday there is the town parade
as I keep up my ambitious charade
on my porch I'll fly a flag
a sort-of patriotic jet lag
colors of red and white in leiu
of dissertation blue!
Friday, April 26, 2013
It's a beautiful spring day here in NYC. I hope everyone's semester is winding down well! You are probably beginning to hole yourselves up in libraries writing final papers, studying for final exams, grading your students' papers or labs, conferencing with professors and/or students, editing chapters or trying to meet conference paper deadlines, while desperately trying to rationalize spending some time in the warm spring sunshine. I empathize completely. At least we have the kind of profession in which we may be able to haul some of our daily work materials out to a grassy knoll somewhere and read/grade/edit/think in the sun, if only for a few hours in the day. Then it's back to the lab/library/classroom/cubicle.
In the midst of all this crazy end of semester running around, when you may begin to question why you have chosen this path in the first place, I have for you a positive and graduate-life-affirming story to share!! It's the story of a once "lowly graduate student" who, in doing a simple end of semester assignment, ended up making a huge impact on his field and possibly the entire world's view of political economics. How's that for uplifting?
Here's the scoop: A few weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine featured the story of 28-year-old economics graduate student Thomas Herndon, studying at UMass Amhearst, who was spending time doing an assignment for one of his econometrics courses. His assignment was to replicate the data from an already published study. During his work, he discovered several flaws in the famous and influential economics study of austerity measures by Reinhart and Rogoff. The story reports:
Herndon was stunned. As a graduate student, he'd just found serious problems in a famous economic study — the academic equivalent of a D-league basketball player dunking on LeBron James. "They say seeing is believing, but I almost didn’t believe my eyes," he says. "I had to ask my girlfriend — who's a Ph.D. student in sociology — to double-check it. And she said, 'I don't think you're seeing things, Thomas.'"After he gained some confidence in his findings, he brought it to his advisors, who also didn't believe it at first. But then, after re-confirming the research and analysis, Herndon and his mentors published a paper with their findings, which received immediate and world-wide attention. Now, Herndon is trying to finish up his semester while basking in the glow of his newfound academic fame.
See people -- you never know what your studies will lead to! My take-away from this story is: keep your nose to the grindstone, but don't be afraid to challenge established theories or data-sets or conclusions. This story encourages graduate students to have confidence in themselves and their work, even in the midst of all the critiques and push-backs from professors, committees, panels, journals, etc -- keep your eyes, heart, and mind open, and follow your instincts, and above all believe in yourself.
Read the full story here. And then go make a difference in the world!!
-- Until next time! -- Liza
Monday, April 22, 2013
When you think of Earth Day, you may reminisce about times in elementary, middle, and high school when teachers and students came together to honor, celebrate, and learn about ways to preserve the beauty and health of the planet. You know -- re-use, reduce, recycle mantras called for kids to create some cool project or invention out of plastic bottles and cardboard tubes, or classes would choose a public outdoor space to clean up and "adopt," or students would learn about water conservation, pollution, and energy sources. Indeed, educational institutions play a central role in Earth Day awareness and observance; but did you realize that colleges and universities played a crucial role in its originating year, 1970? According to the Earthday.org, "Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values."
The event didn't become a major annual holiday right away, however. But the 1970 event did mobilize the modern environmentalist movement that we know today. It catalyzed the creation of the EPA and Clean Air, Clear Water, and Endangered Species Acts. And environmental issues became a mainstay in the academic conversation in graduate and undergraduate programs throughout North America.
Then, in 1990, another huge Earth Day was organized by environmental leaders, and it went global this time. After 1990, Earth Day began to resemble its contemporary form, with children, parents, advocates, environmentalists, and activists across the globe celebrating and participating in Earth Day as a day of action and education.
Today, it seems like the graduate students play somewhat less of a role in the Earth Day activism of the 1970s. But I may just not be aware of what is being done on college and university campuses. What is the buzz around Fordham, or around your campus? As a graduate student, how are you recognizing Earth Day today? And, what are your thoughts about it? What role should we as graduate students play in fostering enthusiasm for the day, and in taking action to protect our planet? Please write in to let me know!
Also, here are some cool Earth Day links!
- Slate.com: 15 Facts about Our Planet
- CNN.com: An Earth Day quiz
- EarthDayNY: Check out what our city is doing for Earth Day!
- CBSnews.com on the 2013 Earth Day Google Doodle
Have a good Earth Day, everyone!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Happy Record Store Day! Yes folks -- today, April 20th, 2013, is Record Store Day!
The best thing I ever did was buy a record player for my apartment. Since then, we have LOVED combing through record stores in different cities and towns, looking for cool finds and building our record collections, new and old. In general, it seems vinyl is coming back around as a medium for music. It's nice to feel something and own something as substantial and satisfying as a record album. There's something great about coming home on a Friday night and starting the weekend with a record, turning the volume up, watching it spin, hearing the tiny crackles, knowing that sound is mechanically happening right there in front of your eyes and ears, feeling the tiny etches inscribed on the object -- the vinyl -- knowing that those inscriptions will somehow generate the music when the needle is dropped.
To help celebrate this resurgence, record store owners across the nation participate in Record Store Day, and artists and labels release material, new and old, on vinyl. This year's ambassador is the great Jack White. His essay on the Record Store Day home page urges us to "wake up" and make sure we don't lose this special medium. He is afraid it will disappear, that the youth of today are so used to things beings at their fingertips, at the click of a mouse, that they don't understand the beauty and humanity of going out and actually experiencing something: "Years ago someone told me that 1,200 high school kids were given a survey. A question was posed to them: Have you ever been to a stand-alone record shop? The number of kids that answered "yes" was... zero." He writes,
"We need to re-educate ourselves about human interaction and the difference between downloading a track on a computer and talking to other people in person and getting turned onto music that you can hold in your hands and share with others. The size, shape, smell, texture and sound of a vinyl record; how do you explain to that teenager who doesn't know that it's a more beautiful musical experience than a mouse click? You get up off your ass, you grab them by the arm and you take them there. You put the record in their hands. You make them drop the needle on the platter. Then they'll know. Let's wake each other up."Mr. White is exactly right. To me, record store are about two things: discovery, and tangibility. The experience of going to a record store and buying a record and then going home and playing that record leaves an indelible mark on a person -- it is a material experience that charges your senses in ways that doesn't happen from downloads and digital media.
Here are some other great quotes about records and record stores that I found provocative and inspiring.
"Record stores keep the human social contact alive it brings people together. Without the independent record stores the community breaks down with everyone sitting in front of their computers"
- Ziggy Marley
“My local independent record shop (Honest Jons) is a library, where you can go to listen to music, learn about it, exchange ideas about it and be inspired by it. I think independent record shops will outlive the music industry as we know it because long term their value to people is far greater, because even in our era of file-sharing and blogs, you cant replace the actual look on someone’s face when they are playing something they really rate and think you should listen to it too. It’s special.”
- Damon Albarn (Blur, The Gorillaz, etc.)
“I love the smell of them. I love that people actually care for and know about the music they are selling.”
- Neko Case
“It’s important to keep indie record stores alive because their unique environments introduce music lovers to things in a very personal way.”These artists emphasize the bodily experience of being in a space that fosters interaction and knowledge. Thinking about the "record store" as a local cultural space that preserves human interaction, learning, discovery, teaching, expertise, and appreciation for materiality in the age of what White calls "disposable" digital media is important in an era in which technology globalizes our human network of ideas and digitizes many of our interactions. White ends his essay by reminding us that "there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves."
- Norah Jones
Anyway, this is my tribute to Record Store Day! Check it out online to find a store, but don't stop there. Get out there and check it out in person!
Enjoy -- Liza