Stepping out of indecision: questions on the work/life dichotomy


I may be somewhat scarce for the next wee bit, as we are settling into our new home in Rhode Island after our move from Atlanta. Fortunately, I have the pleasure of introducing our first guest blogger, Parisa Rinaldi. I’ve known Parisa for 5 years, since she was an undergraduate in my former lab. I think she and her husband go down in history as the most mature undergraduates ever! Needless to say she has gone on to do great work and is a brilliant geographic information systems analyst, a talented artist, and one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever known.

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On the virtues of cardboard

Ulysse crawling the grounds of his kingdom.

It was a warm day in late June. Ulysse and I were playing on the deck with the fans on full blast to keep the heat and the mosquitos at bay. A pile of cardboard boxes sat upon the table leering at me. I had been collecting these boxes for no particular reason other than that they could possibly be used for something, which is my default philosophy about most things, to Fab’s eternal dismay.

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Surviving a military move and loving it!

This past week I had the opportunity to participate on a panel of 4 scientists to discuss Gender in Science at Emory University. That was so exciting and fascinating. I could go on and on about it, and I will, I promise…just not today. Today is MOVING DAY. Today we are packing up all of our belongings into boxes, loading them into trucks, and sending them off. We’ll see them again in about a week in our new home in Narragansett, Rhode Island! Continue reading

Getting your point across, plain and simple

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old you don’t understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

Coming from Albert Einstein this point is particularly well made. Many more times I have heard this advice phrased as, “explain your project as you would to your grandmother or someone you just met at a dinner party.” The point is to first, keep it clear and second, engage the listener. Why is the latter as important? Because it is important for the listener to know your work matters. Oh…and your work should probably matter…if it doesn’t matter then why are you spending any time doing it, let alone telling me about it? A lot of stuff matters so chances are good that our work does too, and it is our not-so-easy task to explain why.
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Do student evaluations make it harder to teach?

Classroom with Three Figures by Lavern Kelley, painted white pine, plywood, brass, and plastic, 1979, 1984–87. Photo by Cliff,

Being back in the classroom – as the professor – has reminded me of one of the aspects of teaching I have always disliked, feared, worried over the most: “How will I score on my students’ course evaluations?!?” It is an unfortunate preoccupation to have when I am just trying to make sure that my class has the right balance of interesting content and challenging, educational assignments and expectations, but it comes back to haunt me from time to time. So when I came across this article by Anya Kamenetz on NPR Ed entitled “Student Evaluations Get an ‘F,’” I realized that I am not alone.
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Getting past procrastination

Procrastination is my worst enemy. This is to say that I am my own worst enemy. The thing is – and I know in advance this is coming from the part of my brain that rationalizes my procrastination – I am not lazy. I still feed and clothe myself and my son. I still keep our habitat clean and do at least a half decent job of teaching him some survival/life skills (like pooping in a potty…though it is a work in progress). It is not as though my procrastination began with domestic life, but at least now my means of procrastinating are more noble than binge watching Law and Order. Continue reading