Giving a talk at Progress Energy

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Today my colleague Ashley R. Kelly and I were invited to Progress Energy headquarters in downtown Raleigh to talk with their corporate communication employees about our ongoing research into their merger with Duke Energy. We’ve been studying this merger ever since they announced it last January, and thus far have published a conference proceedings paper and a forthcoming journal article, with another one in the works. We’ve also presented various aspects of the project – the merger’s connection to the nuclear disaster in Japan, the public hearings, Twitter data and online newspaper reporting – in several academic venues, but this is our first foray into bringing our research to a group within the public sphere. It shows that our work – as with the work that many other academics do – has real world implications that are important and should be heard beyond the walls (or paywalls) of academic venues.

We had a great time today talking with the communication folks at Progress Energy. We spoke with employees in Raleigh (in person) but also had employees from their Florida locations calling in to LiveMeeting to hear us and see our presentation. We really enjoyed having a large chunk of time to talk about our work – no 12-15 minute conference limitations there! – and easily filled the time with our talk and their questions. They were an engaged and inquisitive group; they do their own research and had some of their own hypotheses about their social media use and public conceptions about the merger, but they learned a few things from our research and gained an alternate perspective hearing about public discourse from a pair of objective academic researchers. Their merger with Duke Energy is a messy, complicated, and enormous undertaking – and our research reflects that and speaks to the range of issues that the public is concerned with and the ways in which they have brought their ideas and concerns to the table (or have attempted to).

As a young academic, I feel the need to see the connection that my work has to the world around me and to find ways that I can better connect with the groups that we have worked so hard to study over the last year and a half with respect to this merger. Today we gave a group of people a glimpse into the work that academic researchers do, which I think is important to do such that more people might better understand what we do (and not make wild claims about only working 9 hours a week, like this crazy guy did).

Today was a great way to connect the work that we do to the broader community in which we live and to see the value of our work for others. I look forward to having more opportunities like this in the future. Our invitation today also shows that a little self-promotion (such as tweeting about events we are at or what we are studying) can help us to make important connections to the community. We were invited based on tweeting about our work for the better part of a year and the head of communications one day replying to a tweet to say, “Would you come and talk to us?” So we also very encouraged about reaching out to broader communities through social media. Overall, it was a great day!

Graduate Research Symposium accolodes

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This March, just before CCCC, Ashley R. Kelly and I presented our research on the proposed Duke Energy and Progress Energy Merger at the 7th annual NCSU Graduate Research Symposium. Our poster focused on our analysis of the public response to the merger on social media sites – particularly Twitter – and the change in public response over time. To read more about our project, you can check out the full abstract in the symposium poster here.

Our poster was awarded third place honors in the Humanities and Design division! We are excited that this project has been fruitful thus far, and we have more events upcoming from this project – stay tuned for more updates from me as they happen.

Here is a photo of Ashley and me with our poster at the conclusion of the awards presentation:

Me (l) and Ashley (r) with our award winning poster. Photo courtesy of NCSU.


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I’m adding my voice to today’s Day of Higher Ed by detailing my work schedule for today. Add your voice too to let people know that the work of academics is rigorous, valuable, and just as time consuming as any other profession. Tweet it using the hashtag, #DayofHigherEd, and see what others have written, too.

7:30am: Coffee, take the dog out, Facebook time and news-checking time.
8:00am: Check and respond to work emails, read higher ed blogs in my Google Reader.
8:30am: Workout, breakfast, shower.
9:30am: Work on Campus Writing and Speaking Program handbook for future graduate assistants.
10:30am: Blog 🙂
11:00am: Read one article for tomorrow’s class and take notes.
12:00pm: Commute to school.
12:30pm: First admin meeting for First Year Writing Program. One on one with director; discussion of our ongoing assessment of the hybrid classes and final tasks for the school year.
1:30pm: Second admin meeting for First Year Writing Program, with the entire set of program administrators.
3:00pm: Admin meeting for the Campus Writing and Speaking Program. Focus on our ongoing research project on audio-visual feedback for writers, developing plan for workshop we’re giving next month and article we are co-authoring.
4:00pm: Read a second article for class tomorrow and take notes.
5:00pm: Read an article from my oral exam reading list on rhetorical genre studies, taking meticulous notes.  
6:00pm: Family time – dinner, walking the dog, drinks on the back deck, catching a show or two.
9:30pm: Create to-do list for the rest of the week.
9:45pm: Make revisions to poster for presentation that I’m giving with Ashley R. Kelly next week at the NCSU Global Engagement Expo. Send an email to arrange printing time.
10:15pm: Read second article from my oral exam reading list, taking meticulous notes.
11:15pm: Bedtime!

While my working time for the day isn’t perfectly linear, it’s easy to see that the work goes beyond a typical 8 hour work day – and my day doesn’t even include teaching or other responsibilities that faculty members have that graduate students don’t, like reviewing journal submissions, reading student applications, serving on university committees, etc. etc.

What does your #DayofHigherEd look like?