Friday, September 29, 2006

It must be because I'm so pretty.

There is a student in the department that for some reason, calls me by my first name even though he calls all the other professors Dr. ____. At first I assumed it's because I'm young and cool and whatever, but, today I learned differently.

Our freshman orientation classes are doing a video scavenger hunt. One of the questions is to tape a professor introducing themselves. This student (not a freshman, but one of the "student mentors" assigned to a group of several first-year students) was leading his group of freshmen past my office, and I overheard the following conversation:

Student: Can we ask her?
Mentor: The scavenger hunt sheet says FACULTY MEMBER.
Student: Isn't she a faculty member?
Mentor: You have to be a Doctor. She's not a Doctor. Let's ask Dr. _____.


Some years ago, I saw a portrait of Avogadro. It made me think about how so many geniuses are kind of hard to look at . . . and so many beautiful people - well, you know, maybe they don't have to learn to use their brain. Anyway, sometimes when I do something particularly stupid, I joke to myself, "I must be really pretty today."

But, seriously, I do wonder why that student made the assumption that I am not a faculty member. I have my own office. I teach classes. I advise graduate students. But I don't look quite as old and nerdy as some of the other faculty members. Or is it something else?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nice kid. Problem student.

There's a student in my class this semester who is a really nice guy, but clearly underprepared for grad school. Actually, I'm surprised the student was accepted (not that I have seen his transcripts or other application materials, but I did receive several introductory emails from him when he was looking for an advisor/major professor before he was eventually admitted, and it was clear from every email that he had poor communication skills and not a particularly strong grasp of some of the major issues in the discipline) but he is a member of a particular underrepresented group within our department - so I kind of suspect that this played a role in how he ended up here.

He has a really hard time grasping even the basic material in my class. I really try my best to help him out when he comes to my office hours, but . . . 1) I don't think I should have to be spending EVERY office hour with him (why is it my problem - or the other students' problem - that he didn't come in with an appropriate level of preparation and skill from his previous background?), and 2) I have a hard time answering all his questions without spoon-feeding him (normally this line is one I am comfortable walking, but in this case it's quite a challenge).

It kind of makes me a little angry on the student's behalf. It makes me a little angry on my behalf, too. :(

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On manuscript revision.

I'm not sure what it says about me that one of the things I have really come to enjoy is submitting manuscripts for publication and then responding to the reviewers with remarks and revision.

It's like a game, somehow. The manuscript revision process is very tactical and strategic and I like that (as opposed to the proposal review process, which still seems capricious and wholely un-strategic). I make a move, the reviewers make a move, I make a countermove in response. Sometimes when a paper goes through the review process relatively unscathed, a feel a little guilty or let down, as if I have won the game because my partner/opponent was incapacitated somehow (um, but I still celebrate the win, and it still goes right into my career stats).

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Don't tell anybody I said so.

I treat all my students with equal respect.

But some of them are really, really HOT.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sometimes it's the little things

All week long I have been wanting to snag some Twizzlers from the vending machine. But, the front-most package of Twizzlers was resting at a weird angle in the auger thing. I have been burned by this in the past: you put in your 75 cents, you push the buttons, the auger turns, and a corner of your package of Twizzlers gets caught up on the candy next to it, or something, and you get NOTHING.

So as I am standing there, pondering this situation and lamenting my several days of Twizzlerlessness, the vending maching guy wheels up to the machine with his restocking cart, and I buy some Twizzlers directly from him as soon as he opens the vending machine.