Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library?

Resources for Graduate Students at N.C. State

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Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library?
Are you using all of the resources available to you, like the fabulous Hunt Library Graduate Student Commons?

This post is intended to aggregate and summarize the many resources available to graduate students at N.C. State. Often these units are spread across the university, and it can be hard to find them all. If I have missed something, leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to add it.

Academic & Professional Preparation

Thesis & Dissertation Support Services (TDSS)

Of course, I have to start with my own services. We offer scholarly writing instruction and best practices for graduate school to help students better understand the global process of writing a thesis or dissertation. We offer many seminars, workshops, and other resources for students, primarily focused on writing. These services are brand new for Fall 2013 and are constantly expanding. TDSS: We put the creation of scholarship within reach of students.

Preparing Future Leaders (PFL)

PFL offers evidence-based programs, support, and coaching that guide students through the best practices of leadership. This premier community exemplifies creative engagement, reflective practice, and multi-disciplinary collaboration through workshops, seminars, and longer certificate and fellowship programs for graduate students. Their offerings cover teaching, job applications, and planning for being a future faculty member. These are you go-to people for professional development!

Graduate Writing Center

The new (in fall 2013) Graduate Writing Center is open for all graduate students to bring non-exam related writing materials that they would like feedback on. Writing consultants are trained tutors who can help students in any discipline with writing at any stage, whether it’s an outline, first draft, or final draft. Make your appointment online today!

Library Research Workshops

The amazing folks at the NCSU Libraries offer a wide variety of research-related workshops for graduate students, including Writing Research Article Introductions, Searching Scholarly Databases, Publishing Smartly, and more! These are great particularly for newer graduate students to help you get acclimated to the expectations of a research career and the processes you will be doing constantly.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

While technically a component of Preparing Future Leaders (above), RCR deserves its own mention for the importance of the programming that it runs. Their programming covers all elements of academic and research integrity, including data management, ethics, and more. If your assistantship or work is funded by an NSF or NIH grant, you will have to take the short course they developed in order to meet those funding agencies’ requirements.

Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD)

The Graduate School’s IMSD grant program helps to support and fund diversity in graduate school, specifically for students in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Through this program, students can apply for additional need-based funding for their degree and other retention programs for diverse students in these fields.

University Graduate Student Association (UGSA)

The UGSA is an important resource for graduate students at N.C. State. Part of your student fees go toward supporting this organization, which in turns provides programming and opportunities. They offer competitive travel awards to help fund conference attendance and co-sponsor the annual Research Symposium where you can try your hand at presenting your research at a local conference. Follow them on Twitter, Like them on Facebook, and watch for their newsletter, PawPrints, to keep you up to date on the opportunities they have for you.

Health & Well Being

Counseling Center

Life in grad school can be overwhelming at times. NCSU has a great Counseling Center that is open to all graduate students (for free!) to talk about any issues you would like to discuss. They also frequently offer group sessions, some of which are highly relevant to graduate students, such as “The Perfection Trap.”

Carmichael Gym

Your student fees include membership to the gym! Now that I’m no longer a student, I regret not taking advantage of this more than a few swim sessions and tennis matches. They offers tons of group classes and have great facilities. There’s nothing like a good workout to help mitigate the stress of grad school!

ARTS NC State

In my opinion, getting a graduate education isn’t just about the coursework and research, but it’s also about culture. ARTS NC State has a wide variety of events and shows both on campus and throughout Raleigh. Whatever your preference — music, fashion, theater, art — there are events for you!

As you can see, there is a wide variety of resources available to graduate students here at N.C. State. I hope you can take advantage of many of them while you are here!

Need to finish your dissertation? Protect your time!

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With the start of school less than two weeks away here at N.C. State, I’m getting ready to kick off our new programming here at Thesis and Dissertation Support Services. Part of the services will include blog posts all about the global process of writing a thesis or dissertation, our events, and other graduate school-related issues. Today’s post is geared toward students writing their dissertation and a common obstacle for many doctoral students.

Protect your time

A few days ago, I tweeted: “An important lesson for #diss writers: Protect your time. Others don’t care if you finish. But it matters if you do!” The tweet quickly received some retweets/replies and seemed to resonate with folks, and rightly so. Time is one of the greatest challenges for doctoral students. There’s never enough of it with everything that competes for your time (lab work, more articles to read, extracurriculars, family, teaching, conferences–the list is long and different for everyone).

So how do you finish? Protect your time. Easy to say, but harder to do. Completing your degree is more important to you than anyone else. That is, others will ask you for your time, need you to do things, assume you have some availability, etc. They won’t first think: “Well, so-and-so needs to finish her dissertation.” That will NEVER happen.

People will always be asking you do things. You will always need to do many things. But you need to put your dissertation first. A dissertation requires many hours. One dissertation guide (Foss & Waters’ Destination Dissertation, 2007) estimates 1,078 hours. That’s nearly 7 months of working at it full time (40 hours/week). Not many doctoral students can dedicate that much time a week for a dissertation. At 10 hours/week, that means it would take over 2 years to complete the diss. Maybe you’re aiming somewhere in between? Then you need to find about 20 hours per week to work on your dissertation. Between lab time, teaching, department meetings, and job applications–20 hours can be hard to find.

Or can they? The key is not to have to FIND time. The key is to PROTECT your time so that you always have 20 hours per week (at least) available to work on your dissertation. Here are some strategies for doing this:

Schedule out your working hours for the week, including dissertation time. Twenty hours per week is 4 hours each weekday. One strategy would be to block off all your mornings each weekday for dissertation writing. 8am-12pm = dissertation time (or whatever chunk of time works best for you. Know when you work best!). Block it off in your Google Calendar. Close your email. Turn off Gchat. Be dressed, have coffee in hand, and ready to go at 8am. Work until noon (with bathroom, snack, stretch breaks, of course). Don’t commute to school during this time. Don’t meet a friend for coffee. Use all four hours. Do this every day you have it scheduled, and you will be incredibly productive! Having a habit means you’ll be ready to write when it’s time. No “waiting for inspiration.” No one has ever finished a dissertation using the working method of “waiting for inspiration.”

Dissertation time is for nothing else. Block off your calendar every weekday from 8am-noon from now until Christmas. And stick to it. Meetings, student conferences, fun time, anything else that you have to do must be scheduled outside of your dissertation working time. Do not give in! Don’t attend that job talk at 9:30 am in your department. That’s your dissertation time. Don’t meet with a student at 10am. That’s your dissertation time. This is what it means to protect your time. Other people will not know it is your dissertation time. You do. Ask for meetings in the afternoon. Schedule office hours in the afternoon. Whatever it takes!

People will understand when you tell them. They know it’s your job to finish your dissertation! But there’s no way for them to know your schedule. So when something comes up at 10am, just decline with a friendly note that you have a dissertation session that day and time. It is your right to do this. It is your job to finish your dissertation. Stick up for yourself! Protect your time. No one else will do this for you.

Occasionally things will come up. That’s OK. But making exceptions to your M-F, 8am-noon working schedule (or whatever hours you’ve chosen) should be an absolute exception and not the norm. You might have a Skype interview and the faculty can only do it in during your dissertation session. That’s OK. But then you need to make up for the time that’s lost: where can you get back the 2 hours that you were doing other things? Add it in somewhere else, even if that means turning something down in a generally open time. Dissertation time comes first.

Weekends will be nice rewards–or bonus working time. If you put in all your 20 hours during the week, weekends can be a restful, relaxing time without worrying about making progress on your dissertation, because you’ve done that all week! The end of your degree can be a stressful time as a graduate student: finishing a diss, applying to jobs, teaching, caring for family, etc. So it’s important to take care of yourself and give yourself a break, such as on the weekends (or even just on one weekend day). Alternatively, if you’ve gotten on a roll during the week and want to do more, then weekends become bonus time where you get additional work done (and possibly finish your dissertation sooner).

Now, I realize these suggestions (or at the very least, the example of 20 hours per week) probably work best for full time students. Part time students who work a different job full time may have fewer hours each week to work on their dissertations, but the concept of protecting your time still applies. Maybe even more so. The time that you do get for dissertation work, even if only 1 hour per night and a few hours on the weekend, becomes critical for you to use and to protect. Carve out that time on your Google calendar, and apply the same ideas: protect the time. Only very rarely allow exceptions. And make up for lost time when you do.

Protect your time and you will have the time to finish your dissertation. That’s your number one goal as a doctoral student, so why let other things derail that progress?

What strategies do you use for finding time–making time–to complete your dissertation? Share in the comments!

TDSS Timeline

What are “Thesis and Dissertation Support Services?”

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My new role in the Graduate School at N.C. State is as Director of Thesis and Dissertation Support Services. What exactly does that mean? In this post, I will explain the university’s reasoning for developing such a position and the general direction of the work that I’m starting to do.

The idea of thesis and dissertation support professionals is not new in higher education, but these positions are more common in Europe and Australia than they are in the United States. In doing research for my application, I found many Writing Centers that incorporated support for students writing their theses and dissertations, but I had a hard time finding people who were solely dedicated to these two genres. The University of Michigan’s Louis Ciccarelli runs their Dissertation Writing Institute, which he talked about at this year’s CCCC. But otherwise, what I mostly found are Writing Center professionals who run similar concepts of a dissertation retreat or “bootcamp” and sometimes other workshops targeting doctoral students.

At N.C. State and other research institutions around the country, we are gearing up our focus on graduate education, and particularly doctoral education. This is a multi-pronged effort for graduate student success, and my new position plays a key role in this focus. In proposing the position, they envisioned a writing scholar specializing in writing across the disciplines who could “make explicit the implicit expectations of theses and dissertations” (Lovitts, 2007). Since our institution specializes in the sciences and engineering fields, they were looking in particular for someone who understands writing in the empirical sciences and the key genre, the scientific research article, as an increasing number of dissertations in the sciences are now composed of several publishable (or already published) journal articles.

Their argument is pretty simple: in graduate education, especially doctoral education, there is a great need for the complementary services of a writing professional to help students better understand writing in the academy, and especially writing a dissertation. There is a lot of research that shows how the expectations of the genre can be unclear to graduate students (and even to the faculty directing the dissertations) (Paltridge, 2002; Lovitts, 2007; Gustavii, 2012). Additionally, rarely do graduate students get extensive writing training in their coursework, and advisors increasingly lament the quality of graduate student writing (Lovitts, 2007), but not all faculty feel well-equipped to provide the support they see their students needing. With the hectic schedules of faculty at doctoral-granting institutions, even if they wanted to spend more time helping their graduate students understand academic writing, it’s just not feasible.

This is where my new position steps in to complement the advisory and mentoring roles of faculty members at N.C. State. My services are cross-disciplinary, helping students in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering to understand the genre of the dissertation and to make clear to them the support structures that are in place for graduate students here at the university. I am spending this summer developing the ideas for a variety of workshops that will help advance students’ work on completing their theses and dissertations and developing partnerships with appropriate departments and centers across campus.

Of course, I am by no means reinventing the wheel: writings center, individual programs, departments, and other university units across the country offer a variety of graduate student support for dissertation writing. But what is new about my position is the goal to serve as a central resource for all of the services that are offered across campus. So, in addition to doing research on graduate student writing, dissertations, and doctoral education in general, I’m also spending a lot of time learning the campus and what individual programs are doing to support their students.

Did I miss anyone in my research for this position? If you are a fellow “dissertation support professional,” I would love to hear about your position and the kind of work that you do. And if you’re a graduate student, I’d be interested to hear about the support available to you as a dissertating student, or what support you think would be helpful to you in the process. And especially if you’re at N.C. State, I’d love to hear from you and meet you some time! Drop me a line at: makittle [at] ncsu [dot] edu.

NC State Copper Wolves

New job!

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I’ve been quiet on my blog lately, but that has been somewhat on purpose: I spent much of the spring applying for, interviewing for, and now starting my new job! I am the first-ever Director of Thesis and Dissertation Support Services in the Graduate School here at N.C. State. I started on May 15, and have been working full steam ahead on developing the programming and planning for the first year of the position. I’m really excited about the job, fully believe in the mission of the position, and love the people that I work with here in the Graduate School. I feel like I won the academic employment lottery, so to speak.

In the coming weeks, I plan to blog about the position itself — why the university created it, what I’ll be doing, etc. — and also about the job application process. Some people would probably label this an “alt-ac” job, though I do not see anything alternative about it — it is an academic position, requiring research and instruction, plain and simple. (And the labeling of these kinds of positions is probably a discussion for another post right there.) But, I found that as I was applying for the position, there were very few resources designed for academics not looking specifically for a tenure-track position, so I’d like to share what I did to add to the few resources that are out there.

In the meantime, I am also in the home stretch for finishing my dissertation. I decided earlier this year to chase an aggressive completion timeline, which paid off in making me a candidate for and ultimately landing this position. Now, I’m finding it’s very meta to think all day about helping students finish their dissertations, and then go home to have to finish my own. But soon that will not be the case, and I’ll have to find new ways to fill my evenings and weekends!

Hope your summer is off to a great start!

Dissertation spreadsheet

Using a dissertation progress tracking spreadsheet

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In my last post, in which I talked about the different methods I am using to keep myself accountable in my dissertation writing, I briefly touched on the progress tracking spreadsheet that Ashley and I are collectively using.

What it is

Our tracking spreadsheet is a Google Docs spreadsheet that we created to share our progress and to help keep each other on track. Each of us has our own sheet to keep track of our individual efforts toward our dissertations. My spreadsheet is divided up into weeks and days. The rows represent all of the weeks between January 1 and August 31, and the first seven columns are one for each day of the week (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.). At the end of each day, in the cell that corresponds with that day, I input the number of words I wrote toward my dissertation. I count only words that make it into the dissertation document and no brainstorming, outlining, or references. While these items all count toward dissertation progress — and indeed are important steps toward completing! — I want to keep honest track of much writing toward the final product I am doing. I can read, browse, and crunch data all week, but when it comes down to it, I also need to be putting words on paper (well, on the screen) if I am going to finish in a year. In the columns after the days of the week, I total the number of words I have written for that week in one column and have another that has the total number of words I set for my goal to write that week.

Dissertation spreadsheet
The first portion of my dissertation spreadsheet with rows for each week and columns for each day of the week. See the “Chapter 2 done” date? I’ve actually beat that deadline!

Thoughts so far

Overall: I love the spreadsheet. People who know me know that I am by nature highly-organized and goal-oriented. This spreadsheet allows me to be both in dissertation writing: it forces a daily attention to the spreadsheet, constant tracking of my progress, and allows me to celebrate little victories when I meet the weekly goal that I set. I am eternally grateful to my colleague Ashley for introducing this to me and for coming up with the idea for us to use this to track our progress and keep each other motivated.

I realize this might not be a good idea for everyone. This spreadsheet works particularly well for me and my working personality: I look forward to the end of the day (or my writing session) when I can eagerly input my total word count for the day and watch the numbers add up for the week. It’s like a little shot of confidence that I can do this big, HUGE project because I’m doing so one small chunk at a time.

Trouble spots: The spreadsheet has highlighted for me the days and/or times that I struggle to write. You’ll notice that I have a big fat “0” for three of the four Thursdays in January. Well, that’s because those days I teach and have meetings about the conference that are hosting this spring. These two things end up taking up most of my day, and by the end, I don’t have the brain energy to tackle my dissertation in any meaningful way. I’ve identified that. But I have an entire semester’s worth of Thursdays, and I can’t afford to not write at all on those days if I’m going to finish this year. So I have decided now to make Thursday my “clean up” days: Any new references that I need to put into my bibliography, I note them all week, and on Thursdays, I format them properly into that document. Bam – I can APA format articles in my sleep, so that’s perfect for Thursday. Most importantly, I’m not losing an entire day: I’m making it work for my schedule.

I also made an effort to insert comments into the spreadsheet when I had particular thoughts about the day that I wanted to remember, such as a day with a low total word count in my document but during which I had completed the entire IRB application for my dissertation — a big, important step. Perhaps by the end of the diss I’ll have enough data to write an article on dissertation writing, or to give a workshop to other grad students at this stage of their degree … who knows!

Timeline: After using this spreadsheet for the first month of the year, I have done a little thinking about the timeline that I am on for writing and how well I’ve been able to meet my daily and weekly writing goals. It has even given me the confidence to up my daily writing goal by 82 words, taking my weekly word count goal from 1946 to 2450. This will result in an entirely complete first draft of my dissertation by August and will give me the entire fall semester for revisions, which I think is a reasonable and achievable goal. I’ll write another update post (maybe end of next month?) to report back on how my new elevated word count goal is going.

Do other folks use a system for keeping track of progress on big projects, like a dissertation? If so, what do you use? How does that work for you?

Dissertation writing: Holding a writing group for accountability

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January 1, 2013 marked the first day of my dissertation writing. New year, new project, and new work habits to help me accomplish the final and largest hurdle for my doctorate. I am currently starting the 6th semester of my 8 semesters of funding (middle of my third of four years), so I have approximately one year and a couple of months to write, revise, and defend my dissertation. Challenge accepted.

I’ve asked a lot of others about their strategies for writing, researching, and overall finishing their dissertation and am using several of these strategies with my own writing. Here’s what I’m trying my hand at:

Daily writing goal 

One of the greatest challenges to writing a dissertation in 12 (14?) months is the sheer volume of writing and research that has to be produced to even generate a full first draft, not to mention a final version that the school’s ETD system will actually accept. So, my New Year’s resolution was that every day — every day — I would do something toward my dissertation, specifically enough work that would generate one page’s worth of words for my first drafts of my chapters. So, my daily goal is to write 278 words toward my dissertation (the approximate number of words I chose to represent one page’s worth of writing, since I don’t always just write one page straight through, but jump around between sections). So far, of the 12 days of January, I have missed my goal one day, so the system isn’t perfect. (Would anyone be surprised that the day I didn’t meet that goal, I was teaching and had meetings to plan a conference we’re hosting?) But otherwise, I’ve been steadily writing my chapter, and in a week and a half, I’ve made a lot of progress. So far, this is working really well for me, but obviously, as the semester progresses, this may change.

Accountability 

Along with my daily word count goal, I have a layer of accountability. It’s no secret that Ashley and I work together on a lot of projects, and in the dissertation writing stage, we are trying to support each other’s writing experiences so that we can successfully finish. We hold each other accountable to our daily writing goals through a shared spreadsheet that is set up as a spring semester calendar with daily and weekly writing tallies. Each day after I’ve completed my daily writing, I put into my sheet in that day’s cell the number of words I wrote (today, 484). Ashley has her own sheet, also as a calendar set up with a cell for each day, that she also puts her daily writing totals into. Having a shared document with our own writing tally sheets means that we can see what each other has done — and in many cases, seeing Ashley’s daily word totals has motivated me to write for another 30 minutes to get just a little bit more done. Later into the process, it might help us identify when the other is struggling, which will also be helpful for us to be there for one another.

Writing group

Finally, we have a small writing group of peers who are also working on their dissertation. We meet weekly to discuss our progress and to do peer review of each other’s work. Three or four days we meet, we exchange drafts electronically, and then the day that we meet, we discuss what we thought about each other’s work, suggestions, etc. We review a range of each other’s work, too — whether it be chunks of a dissertation chapter, grant applications, journal article manuscripts we plan to submit, proposals for new courses in the department, etc. The feedback from writing group participants has been so helpful, and I’ve learned a lot not just from what they’ve said about my work, but also from me reading theirs. I have some very, very smart colleagues. Not to mention that having a group of people who expect something from me every week is pretty good motivation for having substantial enough material for them to review.

What else?

Obviously, there are just three strategies that I’m attempting, and this is only the very beginning of my dissertation writing process. I’d love to know what other strategies folks have used to help them power through this and finish — please share!

CFP: Emerging Genres, Forms, and Narratives in New Media Environments

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The CRDM program at NCSU is pleased to announce the CFP for our 4th annual research symposium, organized by Carolyn R. Miller, Ashley R. Kelly, and myself.  We hope you’ll join us in Raleigh for the event this spring!

Call for Papers
Emerging Genres, Forms, Narratives—in New Media Environments
Research Symposium
19–20 April 2013
Program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM)
North Carolina State University

Submission deadline: 1 February 2013

Digital media have enabled what impresses most observers as a dizzying proliferation of new forms of communicative interaction and cultural production, provoking all manner of multimodal experimentation, artistic and entrepreneurial innovation, adaptive construction and reconstruction, and a good deal of just plain play. Hyperlinking, interactivity, and crowdsourcing change our narrative strategies and structures. Some of these new forms go viral, some persist, some adjust incrementally, others languish or are rapidly replaced by something else. Scholars in multiple fields have begun to explore these processes of emergence, innovation, and stabilization, many of them working with the concept of genre, which has become newly important in rhetoric, literature, game studies, library and information science, film and media studies, applied linguistics, and elsewhere. As social recognitions that embed histories, ideologies, contradictions—as sites of inventive potential—as recurrent social actions—genres are constitutive of culture, in Giddens’s sense. Genre systems can tell us a great deal about social values and cultural configurations; narratives tell us who we are and who we want to be; rhetorical and poetic form offers recurrence, recognition, satisfaction.

The 2013 CRDM Research Symposium will explore through both theoretical inquiry and case studies these processes of emergence, innovation, and stabilization as rhetorical energy meets the affordances and constraints of new technologies. Issues of interest include the relationship(s) between medium (or technological affordances) and the evolution and stabilization of genre conventions; historical examples of genre emergence when old media were new (print, film, phonography, radio, television, etc.); the re-mediation or adaptation of familiar forms and narratives in new media; the potentialities of new combinations of modalities, of sound and text, image and word; the processes of global distribution, uptake, and modification of historically and culturally situated forms and narratives; the emergence and assimilation of new forms and genres in education, science, religion, and politics.

Sponsored by NC State’s doctoral program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, the annual CRDM Research Symposium brings together faculty, graduate students, invited speakers, and other participants to engage in collective inquiry and dialogue on a topic of interdisciplinary interest.

Keynote speakers for 2013 include Janet Giltrow (University of British Columbia), Lisa Gitelman (New York University), David Herman (Ohio State University), and Neil Randall (University of Waterloo Games Institute). For a full list of our keynote and featured speakers, please see the Speakers page.

We invite participation from CRDM faculty and graduate students; from other departments and programs across NC State University; from other universities and colleges, and from corporate, governmental, and academic institutions throughout the Research Triangle and at the national and international levels. We welcome two main types of submissions: (1) traditional paper presentations, and (2) digital projects or installations. To present a paper, please submit a 250 word proposal by 1 February 2013 through the submission portal on the conference website (Please note: you must have an account with the site to submit a proposal). To present a digital project, demonstration, or installation, please submit a 250 word proposal/description of the installation. Additionally, please include as much detail as possible about your space and technology requirements. Notifications will be sent on 15 February 2013.

Joint Event with Carolina Rhetoric Conference
The 2013 CRDM Research Symposium will be held jointly with the annual Carolina Rhetoric Conference (CRC), a graduate student conference organized cooperatively by students in rhetoric at Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and NC State University, and hosted this year by CRDM students and the NC State chapter of the Rhetoric Society of America. The CRC is open to any graduate students interested in rhetorical studies. Several events will be held jointly by the CRC and the CRDM Symposium on Friday, and participants in each event will be able to attend sessions at the other.

Publications and Media Archives
We plan to publish selected papers from the Symposium as an edited volume and/or special journal issue related to the theme and to make videos of Symposium presentations available on the CRDM website. The CRC plans to create a podcast series. More details will be available later.

In the month of Thanksgiving

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During this month of “giving thanks,” I am thankful for a lot of things in my life. Pretty much all of them, actually. I’m able to live in a free nation with the person whom I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life. I am pursuing my dream in a thoroughly enriching PhD program with some of the best advisors and mentors I could ask for. I live in a city that’s not too big, not too small, but just right — a city full of interesting, educated, and cultural people with great taste in food and who value green, outdoor space as an important part of the city’s landscape.

And on this day, the day after Election Day, I am thankful that Obama has been reelected President of the United States. We have a President who values health care — a universal human right — for all people, who cares about the voices of all the minorities in the country, not just the minority that is the US’s millionaires and billionaires. And we have a President who supports scientific endeavors and who will, I firmly believe, now take a stronger stance on climate change and Big Oil. (But let’s continue to ask him to do so, and not just leave it up to the government to make it a priority.)

But above all, I am thankful for my little family who makes the work that I do possible. I am grateful for the support of my husband, who works very hard to support me while I’m finishing my PhD.  He offers great perspective when I think I see a problem I can’t fix, and he’s the best listener I could ask for. I also couldn’t do without the companionship of my dog, Chesney, who makes working at home just a little more enjoyable with his cuddles and kisses.

My family

 

Chesney

 

Allan and Meagan

 

The three of us

All images copyright Nikki Sanders Photography, Raleigh NC. Thanks, Nikki, for capturing our little family this fall!