A day in the field

3:00 a.m. My alarm goes off. I open my eyes and see the Heilongjiang sun starting to rise. I close my eyes just for a minute more… (Editor’s note – China, while geographically spanning five time zones, follows only one for unity. That means far eastern locales like Heilongjiang see daybreak early.) 3:15 a.m. My …

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Waves of grain

My car packed with too many clothes, an extremely terrified cat and a live Kombucha culture, I headed west to my summer field site. Oddly enough, my summer field site is also where I grew up. The endless waves of grain remind me of my labor-intensive childhood detasseling corn,1 walking beans2 and bucking bales.3  I …

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Comprehensive Exams, Candidacy Exams and the Job Market: More than the Life of the Mind

The article below is a re-post from the Spring 2017 American Sociological Association Sociology of Development newsletter (see the pdf here: https://sociologyofdevelopment.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/spring-2017-socdev-newsletter-4-11.pdf). The newness of the sub-field of sociology of development means it shares some things in common with an interdisciplinary field such as science and technology studies, namely, dispersed resources, disputes about the canonical …

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And with that I’ll take both good and bad questions…

When scientists give talks/seminars/colloquia/presentations/speeches/lectures/lessons/defenses/instructions, questions are welcomed, and (probably to give themselves time to think), they often start by stating that that is a good question. What they don’t do is designate a question as dumb or stupid, because that’s offensive, and scientists are frail like quails when it comes to their intellects. “Good” questions: …

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Why you should hire me (feat. Hamilton)

[Anna writes..] I think I’d really enjoy being a costume designer, Broadway superstar, or Olympic gymnast. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly have the credentials for those positions. ​ Over here in reality, I will soon be “moving out of higher education in search of new challenges and opportunities” (thanks, Jobs on Toast). So I’m currently putting …

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The only eyeliner in the room

[Anna writes…] “You don’t look like a tromp-around-in-the-woods type.” ​ It was 2012, and after four years in an Environmental Studies undergraduate program and a few summers spent in various eco-jobs, I was more than familiar with the expected look. Luckily, the boy commenting was a cute prospective graduate student from Washington D.C. at my grad …

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Becoming a Digital Scholar

Recently, I’ve posted a couple of times on my efforts to make connections with the world of digital humanities. This week, I continue those efforts by attending for the first time a Digital Humanities methods seminar that I’ve enrolled in. As I’ve mentioned in those previous posts, I’m still working to figure out if/how I—an …

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Coming home

The second part of my project involves DNA extraction from my soil samples. For that, I travel to Nanjing and work in the lab of Dr. Fang Wang in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Soil Science Institute.  Nanjing is only about an hour from Shanghai, which makes my presence much less of a novelty, as …

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Ethics vs. Efficiency

As we drive through the rural Chinese country side visiting village after village, I notice a pattern within Chinese agriculture that is paralleled in Chinese culture, and that is quite different from anything I’ve experienced in America. They literally use everything —  and between rice paddies are planted to soy and the medians between roads …

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When the rain comes

My fieldwork in China started off rough. After the sparkle of the first week – being an honored guest, attending lavish dinners and getting private tours – wore off what remained was me, our research team of five and a project that had some serious American bias hiding within it. The soil analysis for my …

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Be in the know, now back on the grind

Over the past few weeks, I have grown from a perpetually disheveled data scientist and learned to dress slightly better than a sack of potatoes –an added benefit of my summer of experiential learning in the DC area. I was graciously hosted by my guidance committee member, Dr. Abigail Lynch, at the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change …

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What I actually do

So if you remember from previous blogs, my research project is attempting to find differences is in the soil-microbial community between corn, rice (grasses) and soy (a legume). Global soybean trade, specifically soybeans from Brazil and the USA, are being imported by China; these imports are cheaper than domestically produced soybeans, thus driving out China’s …

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I got it from my mama…

It’s May.  I am sitting in my studio apartment, looking at old take-out Chinese boxes with disgust and attempting to pack for my field season in China.  In only one bag. How many pairs of socks should I pack? How much instant coffee does a summer of data collection in Asia require? Can I really …

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Grad school poetry

Punya Mishra recently posted to his blog a digital version of a book that several of us in MSU’s Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program worked on together. It’s not your typical academic book; I think Punya puts it best in his description of it: Graduate school can be a grind. Academia can be dull …

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New article in Tech Trends: Design guidelines for graduate program social media use

In 2014, Colin Terry, John Bell, Virginia Hiltz, Tracy Russo, and other members of a group interested in social media within our Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program presented a paper on best practices for graduate program social media use at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education conference. We’re excited the article is …

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When “Wee” Present

It’s enough to prepare your own presentation for conferences, but it’s another to help students prepare. In addition to the normal mechanics of what a presentation should look/sound like, there are also conference jitters. This can affect how strongly students ‘engage’ and what they take away from the conference experience. To help your students have …

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Anna and the soybean talk

Ironically, after almost two weeks in China I still haven’t had any tea. I have dined in homes and in restaurants, with young and older people but have not encountered this elusive cornerstone of Chinese culture. However, I have encountered many products made from soybeans (黃豆). After being harvested from the field, 85 percent of …

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MAETEL1: Day 1

Michigan State University’s summer MAET program in East Lansing welcomed 22 students from across the globe today who were ready and eager to learn and play. The instructors were excited — and so was Sparty! After a warm video welcome from Galway by Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf, the #MAETEL1 cohort started our first day by …

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Thirty Years

No, the LTEE did not suddenly jump forward by almost 3 years. That milestone will be reached on February 24, 2018. Next Friday is the end of the semester at MSU and, for me, it will mark 30 years that I’ve been on the faculty: six at UC-Irvine, and 24 here at MSU. (I also taught …

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