Workshopping

The 4th Food Justice Workshop was held at MSU yesterday. There was some hand-wringing about “who is at the table.” Mostly academics was the answer, though a few people active in various community organizations dropped by for short stints. By the time we got around to the serious hand-wringing they had all gone home, as had …

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Tightrope Walking in Heels

We’ve just finished hosting a Quantitative Biology Workshop at Spelman to attract our Atlanta-area colleagues and bring a few collaborators in town. In about a week, I’ll be at NSF for a panel. Somehow, I’m also moving in the midst of this… In trying to have some strategy so that I’ve got everything I need to …

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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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Presentations!

Sometimes we get too close to our research. Ok, all of the time we’re probably too close. If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by what you do, and even when things are slow-going, you’re still excited to wake up and think about things. The problem is, you might spend all day, every day, thinking about …

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Pseudonyms

A few weeks back I did a blog about academics and their relationships with big players in the food industry. My point was that we really shouldn’t be shocked, shocked (quoting Captain Louis Renault from Casablanca) when we learn that university scientists share the values and perspectives of major food industry firms. It was, in …

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Perfecting the Pitch for Research Funding

On Wednesday June 3rd I attended the Michigan State University Academy for Global Engagement Fellowship Program public session (see http://vprgs.msu.edu/event/academy-global-engagement-fellowship-program-0). This public session was open to non-fellows (such as myself), and had two parts. In the first part, panelists discussed “Understanding Federal Funding, Congressional Appropriations, and Agency Priorities”, while in the second part they discussed …

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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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Infectiously Fun Science

Science is sometimes frustrating. The work is often repetitive and even tedious. It can be hard to explain to our friends and families—and sometimes even to peers—what we’re doing and why we think it’s important and interesting. The current state of the academic job market is terrible. But science is also often fun. There’s the joy …

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Inclusive Conversations

In a previous column, I described spending a year learning about academic leadership as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow.  One of the best parts of the experience was talking extensively and honestly with new and experienced administrators from a wide variety of backgrounds, disciplines and institutions. It was fascinating to hear their viewpoints …

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Letter of resignation

Dear <chairs>, I am resigning my Assistant Professor position at Michigan State University effective January 2nd, 2015. Sincerely, CTB. Anticipated FAQ: Why? I’m moving to UC Davis. Do you have an employment contract with UC Davis?? Nope. But I’m starting there in January, anyway. Or that’s the plan. And yes, that’s how this kind of thing happen. …

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What is best for Harvard

If you haven’t read Steve Pinker’s The Trouble With Harvard in The New Republic, I highly recommend it. … Like many observers of American universities, I used to believe the following story. Once upon a time Harvard was a finishing school for the plutocracy, where preppies and Kennedy scions earned gentleman’s Cs while playing football, …

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Just Distribution

One of the most enjoyable parts of academic leadership is the chance to give people good news: they will be receiving the conference invitation, increased salary, or research grant they have requested.  But since invitations, raise dollars, and grant funds tend to be limited commodities, hard choices have usually preceded the happy announcement. Designing a …

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Wonderful Life Times Two

No, I’m not talking about the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart, and the eponymous book Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould that presented the case for the role of contingency in the evolution of life. Rather, I’m celebrating a wonderful end to the week and a wonderful weekend, too. Last week, we submitted …

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STEM pays

Peak annual earnings for engineering graduates were even higher at $98k. Source: How Liberal Arts and Sciences Majors Fare in Employment: A Report on Earnings and Long-Term Career Paths. When I was a new faculty member at Oregon I was told with great earnestness by our President (a JD with limited understanding of STEM or …

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