Thursday, 16 June 2016

Post 85: Academic Surprises -- Visiting Scholars!!

About two weeks ago, my supervisor announced that we'd have a guest for basically the entire month of June. Ella Furness is a visiting PhD candidate from the UK (Cardiff University), who is conducting qualitative (interview-based) research with folks doing ecological restoration here in Victoria. She really enjoyed Eric's book "Nature by Design," which was part of the motivation to come here to visit, as well as undertaking (some of) her fieldwork.

When speaking with her last week, I realized that I could have someone to chat with about qualitative research methods, which I'm really interested in, and I asked her to lunch today with that premise. Turns out that we had multiple connection points, and we ended up talking for about half an hour. One point of connection was that I realized I'd recently read one of the papers she published from or shortly after her master's work at UBC, about whether human values and community participation are key to climate change adaptation, published in the journal Climatic Change. That was such a lovely surprise!

One of several Pacific sideband snail (Monadenia fidelis) I spotted while out with a wander on Galiano!
We also shared a moment discussing the struggles of impostor syndrome (which I've previously written about here) and ways to cope with it, and that was also unexpected, kind, and heartwarming. The impostor syndrome is so common in graduate school! I'm amazed that we don't talk about it more frequently, sometimes.

So this post is a quick plug to encourage taking the plunge to connect with those you bump into in your grad school endeavours. Some of these connections will yield meaningful relationships, whether they last for a lunchtime discussion, or branch out into lasting friendships.

I'm also reminded of the excitement of previous visiting lecturers, visiting scholars, and visiting PhD students that I've come into connection with. These visits don't happen that often, but when they do, it can be super nice for your supervisor to introduce you to them, or for you to introduce yourself. Likewise, speaking with the PhDs in your department, or other graduate researchers—your colleagues and peers—is, I think, immensely important for finding shared support and encouragement for the work that each of you is undertaking.

Bright green maple leaf (Acer macrophyllum) also on the trail. Wonder why it fell...
I'm excited for Ella's presentation about her research. I'm sure we'll have some good discussion over lunch later today, but it's also great to give someone a meaningful platform to share their work.

I'm so glad that I said hi this morning! You never know how you can connect with someone until you start a conversation.

And now, back to thesis writing and editing. :)

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