Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Student Orientation, Argh!

Day 1 of orientation:

8 hours of sitting around in a room trying to get to know about 25+ people, not remembering names, and being keenly aware of fluctuations in my blood sugar as the day progressed.

I realized the difficulty with coming from one graduate program to another: expectations. Such as the expectation that I will have building access and an office when I am getting started, and that I will be given a lucid and comprehensible explaination of what the core curriculum should entail. Or that I will have any kind of advisment for what I should be DOING as far as classes. Expectations are a bad thing, I'll just throw that out the window.

The office and key obtainment process is evidently more complicated at UNM Biology than at Penn State Geosciences. Maybe it's a difference in department size; in fact, I'm going to bet that IS the major factor. At PSU, I came to orientation, asked where my office was, was pointed in the right direction and got keys from those same people. At UNM, I evidently need to go through 3 different sets of people to obtain any key for anything. I suppose it works for somebody on some level.

I also experienced an over-the-top discussion on what is expected of TAs in the biology department. Emphasis on "MANDATORY" and "on time is not 9am for a 9am class" and other such cliches lead me to believe one of 2 things: 1) there is a general belief that TAs are lazy or 2) there is a general belief that TAs are incompetent. I like teaching and all, but even this got under my skin a bit. I'm not really looking forward to the first MANDATORY meeting tomorrow.

Day 2 of Orientation:

First day of research integrity training! To my surprise, I actually got something out of today and I was only there for 4 hours, so I can safely say that my mood picked up some since yesterday afternoon.

As of January 4th, 2010, any researcher or research institution that gets finding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the National Institute of Health (NIH) has to go through some kind of ethics or integrity training. We briefly covered topics on conflict of interests, plagarism, using human and animal test subjects, etc. By tomorrow afternoon I'll have a nice piece of paper that certifies that I am trained in the subject of responsible conduct of research, for the next four years at any rate.

I received an assignment today as well, to read and bring in a news article highlighting science in society. I selected a Nature News article "Italy puts seismology in the dock", where Italy is trying to convict a group of seismologists of manslaughter for supposedly telling people there wasn't going to be an earthquake. Of course, seismologists can't predict earthquakes, and the scientists were misrepresented. I'm just really looking forward to making a bunch of biologists listen to something on geology. Should be interdisciplinary, and FUN!

Maybe tomorrow I'll get keys? Maybe Monday...

1 comment:

  1. "Emphasis on "MANDATORY" and "on time is not 9am for a 9am class" and other such cliches..."

    Haha, while I know you aren't enjoying that rigidity, it does remind me of my time in the Navy. I would agree with your speculation that in the past perhaps they weren't as strict and had some flaky TAs that only responded to severe sounding instructions. On the flip side, it is nice when instructions are crystal clear and you don't have to guess at what the person in charge means.