Skip to main content


“That’s the beauty of the blog. It’s process. It’s on the way”: Blogging Wisdom from Dean Chris Long

It's been a while since this blog has updated... 2.5 years, in fact. Wow! I should start by announcing that I finished my PhD and I'm working at Michigan State University at the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology and at Lyman Briggs College. I'll have way more to say about this and what I've been up to since 2016 in future posts. But right now, let's talk about blogging (how meta!).

One of my goals at work this year is to turn blogging into part of my regular practice. I do so many cool projects, and the Hub has an awesome blog where people with better follow-through than I have regularly churn out posts about their work or reactions to issues in higher ed. I even had a series of posts in mind about informal learning on campus that I pitched in the spring to write in the summer... and then it never happened. Not because I'm not interested in the topic, not because the actual writing would be too hard or unpleasant, but because I never hit the right m…
Recent posts

YouTube Playlist of Wildlife Film Clips

Here is a playlist of clips I showed in a guest lecture for Megan Halpern's Intro to History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science course at Michigan State. I used clips from wildlife films, trailers, behind-the-scenes features, and the CBC Fifth Estate documentary Cruel Camera. The most popular clip was the viral sensation Iguana vs Snakes from Planet Earth II (2016)Enjoy!

How to chose the best fictional grad school

When considering graduate schools, even fictional ones, it's important to assess a variety of characteristics to determine the best fit for your academic goals, career interests, and work-life balance. Here's a rundown of what you can expect within a range of prestigious fictional graduate programs [mild spoilers for those unfamiliar with source books or movies].

School: The ABA (American Ballet Academy), featured in the dance-and-eating-disorder-afterschool-special Center Stage (and its sequel and recent TV movie); grad school for ballet dancers. Grad School Cred: Student dancers have a year to take classes and improve their skills, at which point they perform in a showcase audition, a 1-day job market that determines whether they'll be employed in a ballet company. Admission: Audition-based. Highly competitive. Conditions: Punishing. Hard on toes. Having "bad feet," not adhering to a strict diet, or demonstrating "bad attitude" gives teachers the ability…

Ross Geller is a terrible palaeontologist.

When all of the seasons of Friends were released on Netflix this winter, many of us took the opportunity to catch up on a show from our 90s childhoods. But when I did I couldn’t help but be struck by how awful its characters could be to others within the TV universe, Ross most of all. Many of Ross’ shenanigans were related to his job as a palaeontologist, first at a natural history museum and then as a lecturer (later tenured) at NYU. Ross is a terrible person, and that bleeds into him being a terrible palaeontologist & professor. Binge-watching the series really drives this home, as you can see from this parade of professional nonsense:
-He has an after-hours date, then sex, in the museum and gets caught the morning after by kids on a field trip. -He yells at and threatens his museum coworkers, leading to a forced leave of absence while he undergoes anger management training. -His papers are widely discredited. -He forgets to attend his own classes (this running gag usually happens w…

How to hold a baby-friendly conference

Last time I talked about attending a conference with a baby. Many of you gave me great feedback about your own experiences. Unfortunately, some women shared stories of departments or committees which weren't supportive of students having babies during graduate school, or even talking about being parents. Frankly, that attitude is a symptom of dysfunctional PhD program culture, something Sarah Kendzior explores in an excellent piece in Vitae from this past summer. Perhaps all we can do through discussions like these is to share our experiences, support each other through the tough stuff, and slowly change the culture of academia together. Now there's a nice thought.
In this post I'll be describing how you can hold a family-friendly conference. More and more conference committees are ensuring that parents of babies and young children can participate in their events. It's not difficult to make things much, much easier for parent attendees, and they'll really appreciat…

How to attend a conference with a baby

Preamble: the title of this post officially "gives it away": I'm ABD with a B-A-B-Y. Most everyone I interact with professionally knows this, and I wasn't keeping it secret from the internet, but there's still a disadvantage to being a mother in academia, and many hesitate to talk about being parents publicly. I think that's unreasonable, and I hope that this and similar posts can be helpful to other academic parents facing similar issues.
Last week my family attended HSS/PSA in windy Chicago, and it was a great example of a conference that took families with babies into consideration. My next post will be about the good choices those conference organizers made, but this one is directed towards the parent(s) conferencing with a baby in tow (note: some of these tips may not apply to multiple/older children or other types of dependent care, areas in which I'm not experienced).
1. Be baby-travel savvy. There are plenty of usefulresources out there for parents…


We've all been there: things are chugging along fine, until everything grinds to a halt. Your productivity measures aren't working anymore. Your writing goals feel more and more out of reach. Unhelpful or challenging feedback makes you doubt yourself. The emails are piling up, as is the marking. It's even more frustrating when you've devoted energy over the years to building systems for getting to work, getting things done, and keeping yourself accountable, and things are still not progressing.
For me, the low point was a few years ago. I was working on a major paper and I'd utterly lost momentum. I hadn't written a thing in days, and I barely had the drive to open a book. The project was so big and unwieldy that I didn't feel like I could make a dent. I realized how bad things were when the most I could muster the energy to do was take out the garbage. On the walk back up the steps, I realized that the pride I had in accomplishing such a minor task was lack…