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PhD Talk

Education Podcasts

A podcast in which we discuss PhD life, research mechanics, and the tools for doing research.




A podcast in which we discuss PhD life, research mechanics, and the tools for doing research.




Q&A - Ep. 120

In today's episode we do a Q&A. We start with a general update on what we are working on, what is going well, and what is not going well. Then, we address the following questions that came in through the PhD Talk blog: Finally, we discuss what we've enjoyed reading in this year so far, what we are listening to currently (in terms of music and podcasts), and what we particularly enjoy at the moment. References: Citavi The Making of Pro-life Activists: How Social Movement Mobilization Works - Ziad W. Munson (Chicago University Press)Kadril - La Jolie FlamandeFellowship - The Saberlight ChroniclesHaken - FaunaThe Ezra Klein PodcastWhy is this happening? - Chris HayesSelf-compassionate professorAdobe AuditionGoodway coffee


Interview with Kalin Kiesling - Ep. 119

In today's episode, we interview Dr. Kalin Kiesling. She is a nuclear engineer at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Lab where she develops the software that other engineers use to design and analyze new nuclear reactor concepts. She earned her PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2022, from which she also holds a bachelors and masters in nuclear engineering. We learn about her background and career path, and how she choose to get all her degrees at the same university. We also learn about her research and the methods she used during her PhD and the programming she carries out in her job, as well as about the timeline of the PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the various milestones in the program. We also learn about how she landed her position at Argonne, and how the pandemic influenced her life values and career aspirations. Outside of her technical area in nuclear engineering, Kalin is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the nuclear industry, broader STEM field, and academia in general. At Argonne National Lab she is on a DEI council where she advocates for her colleagues and works with leadership to make impactful changes. We learn about the state of DEI in the nuclear industry and the changes occurring in the field, as well as Kalin's best advice on how to foster DEI in STEM and academia. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family (husband and almost 4 year old daughter) and getting lost in one of her many hobbies (usually some form of crafting or gardening). As an academic parent of a baby, the pandemic certainly hit Kalin's research hard. We learn about Kalin's journey as an academic parent, the support provided by her university and advisor, and how her parenting journey coincided with the pandemic. We round off the episode learning about Kalin's best advice for PhD students, how she sets boundaries around work, reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 and what a day in the life looks like for her. References TwitterLinkedIn


Special Issues - Ep. 118

In today's episode, we talk about special issues: what are they, what is the value of special issue, and why should you consider editing a special issue. We also discuss the caveats and increasing bad reputation on special issues related to the business model of some publishers. We look at the difference of special issues for journals directly, and those associated with events (mini symposia, session, etc). We also look at the joys and pitfalls of co-editing special issues. Next, we look at the various steps: how to propose a special issue, how to send around the call for papers, how to manage the review process, and how to wrap up everything in the end. Finally, we reflect on whether it is worth or not the time and effort of editing a special issue, and what the greatest joys are in this work.


Interview with Emily Hoppe - Ep. 117

In today's episode, we interview Emily Hoppe. Emily is a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland. Before starting her PhD, Emily practiced as a staff nurse and psychiatric nurse practitioner at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland for eight years. Her clinical practice focused on the mental health of young children with behavioral and emotional concerns, supporting parents, and diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with OCD. Before going to nursing school, Emily got a BA in English. We learn about her career path, and how she decided to return to academia while being in practice, and how she decided to go to Johns Hopkins for her PhD. Emily's research focuses on parents' adverse and childhood experiences' impact on parenting practices, and the role of neighborhood safety in parenting. We learn about her mixed methods research, and how it fits within the timeline of her PhD program. We also learn about the major milestones of the PhD program in nursing at Johns Hopkins. Emily is also an academic parent. We learn about how the birth of her child impacted her career decisions, the type of support she got as a practicing nurse, and the support system she has as a doctoral candidate and parent in her PhD program. We also discuss how the pandemic influenced her experience at the beginning of her PhD. We round off the interview with learning about Emily's best advice for doctoral candidates, how she sets boundaries around work, and what a day in the life looks like for her. References Dr. Debbie GrossJohns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins PhD program in nursing


Grant writing - Ep. 116

In today's episode, Phil interviews Eva about grant writing. We learn about Eva's various sources of funding, the funding she has applied for in the past, and what has worked and what not. We also look at how helpful the feedback and grading of a proposal can be. Then, we get into our best practices for grant writing. In summary, these are: We also look at particular advice for early career scholars on getting their research funded, and when to quit an idea. We also discuss the difference between depending on funding for our salaries versus having a tenured position where we may not need to be paying our salaries out of our project.


Interview with Jacqueline Shaia - Ep.115

In today's episode, we interview Jacqueline Shaia. She is a second year PhD student at Case Western Reserve University in the Clinical Translational Science PhD program. We learn about how she decided between going into the career path of a practicing physician and researcher, and how her background shaped her choices in her research and methods. Her current work focuses on ocular disorders, especially the rare idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a vision threatening disease that mainly affects women of a reproductive age. We learned about the disease itself, the treatment options, and how it disproportionately affects Black women. In addition to her research, Jacqueline is passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists and showcasing the many different ways someone can have a research career. We talk about her use of social media and blogging, and the benefits of being more visible online. We round off learning about her advice for doctoral candidates, setting boundaries around work, the impact of COVID-19 on her applications and start of the PhD, and what a day in the life looks like. References Jacqueline's website Jacqueline's instagram Jacqueline's TwitterInterview with Jacqueline Translational scienceCase Western Reserve UniversityClinical Translational Science PhD program.Training T32 grant within the NIH Trinetx


Presenting at conferences - Ep. 114

In today's episode, we talk about presenting at conferences. We look at what's the point of conferences in the first place, and how digital conferences can recreate the opportunities for networking (or not), and for whom. We also look at conferences as a genre, what the difference between writing a conference paper and presenting this conference paper is all about. This topic leads us into our best tips for presenting at conferences, and the use of visual information during presentations. We want to sell our research and ourselves, and have a take-home message for our audience. To round off, we find that our take home message for today's episode is that one should have a take-home message for the conference presentation. References Increase understanding at conferences - Ep. 106Attending your first conference - Ep. 68Virtual conferences - Ep. 22


Starting as a new faculty member - Ep. 113

In today's episode, we talk about starting as a new faculty member. Phil interviews Eva about when she started as a faculty member at USFQ and TU Delft, and what her advice would be for new incoming faculty. We talk about how Eva found her faculty position, and how her teaching load at USFQ has changed over time. We also talk about the way in which professors are evaluated at various universities and how that reflects on how we prepare our tasks for the upcoming period of time and how we periodically reflect on our work and achievements. We also look at administrative tasks and service, and how to balance between the fact that everything gets thrown on the new faculty member and the need to find time to work on our research. Similarly, we look at what realistic expectations are for teaching material (and accepting that it won't be perfect on the first run) and setting boundaries to avoid spending too much time trying to polish things to level of perfection.


Introducing season 3 podcast cohost Phil Creswell - Ep. 112

In today's episode, Eva interviews the podcast co-host for season 3: Phil Creswell. Phil has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Social Sciences and a PhD from Uppsala University in Sweden. His PhD dissertation Chains of Trust: Networks of Persistent Resistance in Digital Activism is an ethnography of the hacktivist scene in (and around) Anonymous and its activism that looks at participation and collaboration in risky and costly activism online. We talk about Phil's career path so far, and what it is like to do a PhD in Sweden. His research interests have tended to coalesce around social networks and social theory. Currently, he’s working on a book chapter about the Pirate Movement in Sweden, a paper with a collaborator about environmental activism, and trying to survive an intensive adjunct teaching position. We learn more about Phil's research as well as how he landed teaching positions after the PhD. He will begin a new position at the University of Gothenburg as an Assistant Professor with a focus on teaching sociology to teacher students. We learn about the process of applying for this position, and what's coming up next for Phil. He is also an increasingly distant figurehead for a highly successful metal review blog and all around nerd.


How to reduce your workload as a professor - Ep. 111

I asked ChatGPT how I can reduce my workload as a professor, and I have Some Opinions on that. Here’s what AI recommended me (in italic), and what I think about that (regular). As a professor, reducing your workload can be challenging due to the many responsibilities you have. You bet, AI, there’s a lot on my plate. However, here are a few tips that may help: Bring it on… Prioritize tasks: Make a list of your tasks and prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Focus on the most important tasks first.Delegate tasks: If you have teaching assistants or administrative staff, delegate tasks to them to reduce your workload.Streamline your teaching methods: Look for ways to make your teaching more efficient, such as using technology or group work.Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with your students and colleagues, such as office hours and response times, to reduce the amount of time spent on email or other administrative tasks.Take care of yourself: Make sure to take breaks, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy work-life balance to reduce stress levels and increase productivity.Seek support: Consider joining a peer mentoring program or working with a professional mentor to help you manage your workload more effectively.Re-evaluate your workload: Regularly review and assess your workload to see if there are any tasks that can be removed or streamlined to reduce the amount of time spent working.What do you think? Did ChatGPT give me good advice on how to reduce my workload?


International collaborations - Ep. 110

When are growing into a position of becoming an independent scholar, an important element is to start new collaborations. You are no longer expected to work exclusively with your colleagues at your institution or with your former supervisor. You are expected instead to spread your wings and develop new collaborations. Unless you are planning to shut the door behind you and work in solitude for the rest of your days, it will become necessary to reach out to colleagues worldwide who have skills that are required in certain projects. Initiating international networks and collaborations is also important for your publications: it is generally considered positive if you get the opportunity to publish with colleagues from different institutions. So how do you initiate and build international collaborations? Do you buy a plane ticket to a colleague whose work you’ve read, and just barge into his/her office to make your colleague an offer for collaboration that he/she can’t refuse? There’s no need for such drastic ways, and there are a variety of ways indeed in which you can start working across institutions and across borders. Below, you can find a number of ideas to get started: 1. Reach out to colleagues The colleagues you’ve met several times at conferences over the past years and had good talks are potential collaborators. If you have a chance to talk to one of your colleagues at a conference, propose to work on a topic together. Don’t be vague, but propose a topic that is of your mutual interest, that combines both your skills. Make sure you’ve read some of the work of your potential collaborator, so that you have a good grasp of what he/she has been working on recently. If you want to start small, propose to write a conference paper on a certain topic first, and then see where the results take you. If the collaboration is pleasant, you can consider to apply for funding for a joint project. 2. Reach out after reading a paper If you’ve read an interesting paper, go ahead and reach out to the author to ask further questions. If the author proposes an interesting method, you can ask for supplementary material and suggest to implement this method to your results, and develop a publication together. You’d be surprised how often fellow researchers react enthusiastically. Don’t feel disappointed if the author gets back to you making it clear that he/she does not want to share additional thoughts and insights on the topic – if that’s the attitude of this person, you won’t have a good collaboration anyway. 3. Service appointments An excellent way of starting international collaborations is through service appointments, and in particular through technical committees. As technical committees develop technical documents, you get the opportunity to publish these documents either as committee documents, or by working in smaller task groups. If you are in your early career, don’t let an opportunity slide to work on technical documents (provided that you have the time, and can deliver what you promised). Working in technical committees also gives you an opportunity to interact with colleagues from different institutions directly. .../... Full post here


Planning your paper writing - Ep. 109

In today's episode, I answer the following questions: - How much time does it take to write a paper? - How can you remain focused on writing a paper over weeks on end? - How can you quickly pull together a conference paper when the deadline is near? This episode is loosely based on: - How to write a paper in two days - How much time does it take to write a paper?


Good habits to develop at various stages during your career - Ep. 108

In this episode, I talk about good habits to develop during the PhD, the post-doc years, and the tenure track years. You can find the associated posts here: - Good habits to develop during the PhD - Good habits to develop as a post-doc - Good habits to develop on the tenure-track


30 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block - Ep. 107

Another bonus episode! We’ve all been in this awful situation: you need to write a paper or work on a chapter of your dissertation, but 20 minutes pass, and you can’t write anything. You go surf the internet for a little bit, return to your white screen and blinking cursor, and quickly get sucked into the internet again. Suddenly it is 5pm and you have not done anything. An entire day wasted without doing anything… Writer’s block – it can strike us all at any given time. If you feel that your writing is not moving anywhere, don’t sit through the day hoping that things will change. Take action, make some course-corrections, and save the remaining hours of your day. Here is a list of 30 things you can try to get your juices flowing again: 1. Reuse some old material Your first draft is not the paper that you are going to submit. Feel free to copy and paste some material from a previous paper or report, and start from there. I usually write down the research steps that I followed in a research report, and use that as the rough basis for my papers. Not using research reports? How about browsing through your lab book and just typing out some of the material that is in there? You will edit later anyway. 2. Go for a walk If you look at the habits of highly creative people from the past, you will see that almost all of them made time to go for a walk and sort out their thoughts during the day. So, leave your desk and enjoy a brisk walk around campus. 3. Try pen and paper instead Are the internetz distracting you too much? Why not ditching the text processor software, and writing by hand? Some (older) researchers still write their papers entirely by hand first, and then either type up the material themselves or give it to a secretary/typist. Since most of us don’t have a typist handy, you might have to type it up afterwards, but really, just typing goes super fast. Typing is a different action than writing. 4. Talk out loud Stuck on forming sentences? Why don’t you try talking out loud instead? Talk to a friend or office mate, or even an imaginary friend and explain what your paper is going to be about. Try the same technique when you can’t find the right words for a sentence: just talk out loud: “What I want to say here in my own words is,… “. .../... Full post on PhD Talk


What I use to stay engaged with presentations at conferences - Ep. 106

In today's episode, I share my methods for staying engaged with the presentations at conferences. Here are my seven strategies: Schedule smart: Take notesThink of questionsRelate to researchNote down action itemsFollow upSleepThis episode is based on an earlier blog post.


My method for writing an abstract - Ep. 105

I’ve found what really works for me to write an abstract in roughly 30 minutes. As I was googling “How to write an abstract” in the past, I came across this article by Philip Koopman which caught my attention. What I most like about this website is the questions it has in the different sections your abstract should contain: Motivation: Why do we care about the problem and the results? Problem statement: What problem are you trying to solve? Approach: How did you go about solving or making progress on the problem? Did you use simulation, analytic models, prototype construction, or analysis of field data for an actual product? Results: What’s the answer? Conclusions: What are the implications of your answer? Is it going to change the world (unlikely), be a significant “win”, be a nice hack, or simply serve as a road sign indicating that this path is a waste of time (all of the previous results are useful)? In fact, whenever I now write an abstract, I simply copy and paste these questions into a new document. Then I start answering them one by one. Sometimes I just talk out loud and write it down. Style and grammar don’t matter to me at that point – I just need to get the ideas out first. These answers then make up the first draft of my abstract. I simply delete the questions, and print out this first version. At that point, I start manipulating the abstract into a readable text, in correct English (as good as possible in my case), and making sure the entire piece flows from its starting point and background description towards the results and conclusions. Do you have a method which helps you to write abstracts?


Season 2 outro and thanks - Ep. 104

A very quick bonus episode today to thank all of those who made season 2 possible!


Interview with Jenny Orlando-Salling- Ep. 103

In today's episode, we interview Jenny Orlando-Salling. Jenny is a PhD Fellow in Law at the University of Copenhagen. Originally from Malta, Jenny has lived, studied and worked in a number of countries eventually settling down in Copenhagen, Denmark where she raises her children. Prior to her PhD, Jenny served as a diplomat in Brussels (at the EU) and Egypt. She holds degrees in Law and Political Science from UCL and the LSE. We talk about her career path, and how she returned to academia after a number of years in the foreign service. We also zoom in to her PhD program, which is combined with an LLM, and the structure of this program, as well as its requirements with regard to courses, teaching, international fellowship, and other milestones in the program. Jenny's research focuses on colonialism in EU Law. We learn about how her experience as a diplomat shaped her research interests, as well as how the experience of always being on-call as a diplomat influenced how she set boundaries around work when she returned to academia. Jenny is currently pregnant with her third child and has two daughters (a four year old and a 10 month old). She is married. We learn about her experience as an academic parent, and the differences in support she experienced as a new parent in the foreign service and as a parent pursuing a PhD at a university in Denmark. To round off, we learn her best advice for PhD students, how Jenny sets boundaries to her work, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on her research and PhD, and what a day in the life looks like for her. References Jenny's TwitterReimagining a European ConstitutionUnderstanding Identity and the Legacy of Empire in European Constitutionalism: The Case of Hungary


Interview with Malorie Albee - Ep. 102

In today's episode, we interview Dr. Malorie Albee. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northern Michigan University with a PhD from Ohio State University. We learn about her career path, and the various moves she and her family have made over the course of the past years. We learn about the PhD program at Ohio State, and the structure of coursework, candidacy exam, proposal, and dissertation. We were surprised to learn about the written part of the candidacy exam, which requires the candidates to write five 20-page essays between Monday 8am and Friday 5pm of the exam week. She studies the bioarchaeology of the human foot skeleton. We learn about what the bones in skeletal feet can teach us about the impact of our sedentary lifestyles, and why bioarchaeologists have perhaps not spent as much time on exploring this part of skeletal remains. We talk about Malorie's experience in applying for a job after the PhD: when she started to apply, the type of positions she applied for, and what the campus interview is like for the academic positions she interviewed for. Malorie also has a 6-year-old son, and we discuss how her experience as an academic parent has shaped some of the work she has done in her campus community: from advocating for lactation spaces that are not on the other end of campus, to setting an example as a mother and academic to her son and others. We round off with her best advice for PhD candidates, how she sets boundaries to work, the impact of COVID-19 on her PhD and data collection, and what a day looks like in the life for her. References Diagnosing tarsal coalition in medieval ExeterTarsal metric trends over the Medieval-Post-Medieval transition in London


Interview with Maria Balaet - Ep. 101

In today's episode, we interview Maria Balaet. Maria is a computational neuroscientist at Imperial College London (final PhD year). We learn about how she has wanted to become a scientist from a very young age and how she achieved moving from Romania to the UK for her studies. Her research focuses on using large scale cognitive testing and machine learning methods for understanding how cognitive processes differ relative to the general population in people affected by neurological conditions or who are drug users. We learn about the methods she has used in her research, and how her methods were adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maria is also a mentor for In2Science UK, teaches and supervises students part of the Imperial College London Translational and Experimental Neuroscience Masters courses. We learn more about the PhD program at Imperial College and the tasks PhD candidates typically take on. Maria is very passionate about public engagement with science, having delivered over two dozen public lectures across the UK just in the past three months. She also worked as a scientist for the TV show the Family Brain Games. We learn about her experience working on the TV show and giving public lectures, and how this engagement has made her PhD experience richer. We also learn from Maria's experience as an academic mother, and how she has been balancing motherhood and her research during the pandemic. Finally, we learn about her best advice for PhD candidates, how she sets boundaries to work, the impact of COVID-19 on her research, and what a day in the life looks like for her. References Find Maria on TwitterMaria's profile