Technology on Campus

Using every and all forms of technology is completely acceptable and recommended in grad school. Indiana University makes it easy for people like me to understand new email interfaces, citation management softwares, setting up wireless printing, and more.

  • University Information Technology Services – the technological support and services for the entire university. I have taken classes on Excel and HTML for my graduate assistantships to help me learn new skills and brush up on others. There are various workshops and trainings you can sign up for through the university.
  • After I purchased my pride and joy, bane of my existence, laptop I had to download some appropriate software such as Office for MAC, Adobe, and the wonderful Endnote. These software programs and many more are available through the university.
  • Questions or issues with software, internet logins, pass phrases not working, or email servers giving you trouble…well the campus support center will answer questions by phone, email, in person, and by chat.
  • There is even a place to purchase hardware on campus right in the Indiana Memorial Union and discounted items through IU Surplus.

What I have described here is only a small part of the tech services and support here on campus. I am still learning about new tips and tricks all the time.

 

Becoming more productive

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Managing your time as a PhD student is exhausting. I often find myself blinking at the sheer number of tasks that need to be completed.  Since the start of this academic year, I have juggled revisions on my parts of my dissertation, learning Swahili, attending research skills workshops, writing conference presentations, teaching, and managing my three non-dissertation research projects. Even though I have experience in these areas, they still take lots of time.  I dream about having a research assistant.  LOL.

I know that there are two types of people in my PhD world:  (1) those who are productive by nature; and (2) everyone else.    This post is for that second group.   Continue reading

Collaboration

When it comes to graduate school, most people’s first thoughts jump to experts in training in a narrow field of study, but further consideration might reveal the truth – graduate school, in fact research and teaching in general, is very reliant on collaboration.  It is a key component that differentiates the good scholars from the best, and is a skill that is carefully acquired and refined throughout a career.  If you need further evidence of this, just take a stroll around the IUB campus – you will see a building constructed especially for collaborative work, which is even named the Multidisciplinary Science Building II (or MSB II for short).

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The recently constructed Multidisciplinary Science Building II (MSBII) on the IUB campus. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

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Libraries at IU

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The Herman B Wells Library, as viewed from the West. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

The first time you see the Herman B Wells Library at IU, you may think, “wow, that’s awesome!” or perhaps, “what a strange looking building!”  Either way, you may or may not realize that you’re looking at a library that hosts an extraordinary Information Commons, multiple quiet and group study floors, and endless rows of stacks that contain tomes of knowledge that have been slowly accrued over the last several millenia.  So I encourage you to venture in, grab a coffee, and learn about the endless resources that are available to you through the IU Libraries.

We are fortunate here at Indiana University to have a library system that includes agreements with other libraries to grant us students and the faculty access to almost any resource in the world.  I have yet to find a book, journal, or article that is not accessible either online, in print, or through Inter-Library Loan.  So, it’s pretty easy to access scholarly resources here at IU, which makes life as a graduate student MUCH easier.  There are many satellite libraries here on campus housed within each academic department (for example, the Chemistry Library, Life Sciences Library, Law Library, etc.), so you don’t have to venture far to speak with a librarian to assist you with your studies.  Moreover, the library even offers live chatting to help you facilitate your research if you get stuck and need to ask a question right away.  A little known secret is that some of the satellite libraries even offer graduate assistantships to students that includes a fee remission, health insurance, and a stipend, just like a teaching or research student academic appointment would.  So if you’re still searching for funding, the libraries might be a good place to look if you’re running out of options.

The bottom line is that the extensive resources and expertise that are available through the IU Libraries exist to facilitate the work of graduate students and faculty, which makes life much easier for us.  So go ahead and stop in one of the libraries sometime and get to know your friendly neighborhood librarian, because they might just get you out of a bind when you’re burning the wick at both ends trying to finish up an important project.

To Go? Or Not To Go? Departmental Seminars

Let’s face it – as graduate students, we are saddled with juggling the classes we’re taking, the research we’re conducting, the classes we’re teaching, and then all the other things we’re involved in (voluntarily of course, since we are choosing to be here!).  Time is clearly a precious commodity in the life of a graduate student.  So when your home School or Department hosts a seminar, lecture, or other event, the debate is always whether or not it’s worth your time to attend.  Most students consider such things as:

1) Is the topic of direct interest to me or does it impact my area of study?

2) How long is the seminar/lecture?

3) Does it fit in my current schedule?

4) Who else will be there?  Will I be expected to be in attendance?

and most importantly 5) IS THERE FREE FOOD?!?!?!?!?

It’s kind of like betting in a poker game…

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To go, or not to go? To check, call, bet, or fold? See the analogy?

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TEAM APRIL

2013 was a banner year for challenges.  There were losses:  first, in February, the unexpected death of the husband of one of my best friends; and second, in July, the sudden and unexpected death of my own sister.

Of course, there were the additional challenges associated with these deaths – supporting my friend as she reeled from her loss and the stress resulting from my own family’s struggle with decisions regarding the withdrawal of life support measures after my sister’s catastrophic injury.  Continue reading