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Black cancer scientist from Mississippi meets Asian literary critic from Canada. A podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. Both Ivy League PhDs. Both fans of lipstick.




S04E01 | Starting School After #Charlottesville: Dr. Jill Spivey Caddell on #SilentSam & Monuments

After the events of Charlottesville what has changed or SHOULD change for the start of the school year? How do we navigate family legacies if you're descended from the enslaved or have Confederate ancestors? What if these issues are in your face on campus? These debates hit close to home for PhDiva Liz and Dr. Jill Spivey Caddell at UNC Chapel Hill where the Confederate statue Silent Sam stands. Topics include Jill's research on Civil War monuments, revisionist histories, #NoConfederate,...

Duration: 01:11:16

S03E30 | Negative Results to Positive Outcomes: Dr. Erica Pratt on Struggles in Science

What happens when your project fails? Dr. Erica Pratt, researcher at University of Texas MD Cancer Medical Center, talks about the bias against discussing negative results in science and the struggle to succeed as a nontraditional student. If you aren't what people expect a scientist to look like AND are rather modest, you need mentors to go the extra mile as coaches. We discuss Erica's trajectory from her undergrad at Carnegie Mellon, which required all undergrads in the new biomedical...

Duration: 01:25:16

S03E29 | Animal Doctors/Human Medicine: Katti Horng on Vet School & HIV Research

Katti Horng's path to studying HIV in the combined DVM/PhD degree at UC Davis began with a Chinese tradition for babies: infants are presented with objects symbolizing different professions to see what their futures will hold. PhDivas Xine and Liz talk to Katti about cow rectums, animal rights vs. animal welfare, and the difference between the cultures of professional and graduate degrees. We get a new perspective on sexism: even though women are now the majority in veterinary medicine, we...

Duration: 01:03:21

Anti-Racist Student Activism and Its Aftermath: Interview with Kristi Carey

Student protests inspired by Black Lives Matter have swept across American universities. What did these undergraduate activists want? PhDiva Dr. Xine Yao interviews Kristi Carey, one of the leaders of the 2014-5 protests at Colgate University. Kristi and her fellow women of color activists organized in the wake of Michael Brown's killing to draw attention to systemic problems on campus and to demand real change from the university. Sit-ins, death threats, candle light vigils -- what has...

Duration: 00:44:16

S03E27 | Can We Ever Take a Break?

Summer vacation: when academics look forward to spending quality time... working on their research. Over the "holiday" weekend Liz and Xine talk about structuring their time and the unexpected emotional labour that comes when you do take a "break" only to frantically play catch-up on your personal life. We discuss the idea of breaks in a wider sense as well: figuring out strategic vulnerability, burning out because of social media, allowing ourselves to ask for help. How can we take a...

Duration: 00:49:56

Decolonizing or Indigenizing the University? Interview with Sereana Naepi

To decolonize or Indigenize the university? Sereana Naepi, an Indigenous Pacific Islander, takes on this question through her doctoral studies in Education at UBC on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. PhDiva Xine interviews Sereana about Education as a discipline unto itself and how she brings Indigenous methodologies into her work on Indigenous women's experiences as higher ed staff. As a Fijian Pasifika scholar from New Zealand, Sereana explains how...

Duration: 01:07:38

Surviving the Job Market, Setting Up a Lab: Interview with Dr. Nadia Chernyak

If you survived the academic job market, what comes next? Xine catches up with Dr. Nadia Chernyak who will be tenure-track at UC Irvine in the Cognitive Science department. Nadia does amazing research on cognitive and moral development in children, but as it turns out, nothing truly prepares you to be a #newprof. What is involved in setting up a lab, which could be described as running your own small startup?

Duration: 00:58:30

S03E23 | The Secret Life of Academic Conferences

Conferences are like icebergs: there's a lot going on below the surface. We give you insight on the secret life of academic conferences. First, Liz and Xine cover the obvious considerations about STEM and humanities conferences. But in the majority of this episode we discuss the hidden dynamics: institutional privilege, social ecosystems, and how cliques make visible professional power dynamics. In some ways, academic conferences can be like a teen movie! You enter as an overwhelmed junior...

Duration: 01:12:13

S03E22 | #TED2017: PhDiva Liz and Black Excellence

Here's the inside scoop on #TED2017 in Vancouver from TED Fellow and PhDiva Dr. Liz Wayne who delivered a TED Talk about her research on cancer drug delivery. Xine interviews Liz about the application process, preparation process, and life-changing experience of the TED Conference. What is it like to take science communication to the next level? What entrepreneurs and creatives did Liz rub shoulders with? Congratulations to Liz on continuing to develop her black excellence! Liz's TED Talk...

Duration: 00:24:21

S03E21 | April Showers: End of Semester Stress

April is the cruelest month! It's a rough time in higher ed: originally our theme for this episode was just "being tired." Work, travel, bills, dying houseplants. We push through our exhaustion to talk about the musical Hamilton, Get Out, Ghost in the Shell, and that awful Pepsi commercial with Kendall Jenner. The PhDivas just came back from their visit to Earlham College where they gave talks on their individual research and on bridging the STEM/humanities divide. Connecting with students...

Duration: 00:53:50

S03E20 | Coming-of-Age in Academia: Interview with Brianda Beverley of Flyy Science

Our latest guest Brianda is at a turning point: pursue a PhD in STEM or follow her dream of growing Flyy Science, which combines science communication with hip hop and style. This is a coming-of-age in academia episode that everyone can relate to! Liz and Xine chat with Brianda about her current work as a certified Medical Laboratory Scientist, the gap between STEM degrees and jobs, and the journey from realizing you love something to what it means to develop a career. Why don't kidneys...

Duration: 01:01:03

S03E19 | Black Child Joy: Black History Month Recap with Prof Danielle Morgan

Black child joy is a fundamental reason Black History Month needs to exist. We recap Black History Month 2017 with Danielle Morgan, Assistant Professor of English at Santa Clara University, from Beyonce's pregnancy with twins to Moonlight, Fences, and Hidden Figures at the Oscars. The figure of the Black child is important to address beyond sentimentality: Danielle and Liz explain to Xine what celebrating Black History Month meant to them as children. How do we make space for respecting...

Duration: 00:54:44

S03E18 | Not Just in February: Black History Month Interview with Prof Mari Crabtree

This week we have a double episode release for Black History Month! Historian Mari N. Crabtree is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at the College of Charleston and works on lynching, narrativity, and memory in the South. She researches and teaches Black history not far from Emanuel AME Church, the site of the massacre committed by Dylann Roof, and in South Carolina, where Bree Newsome took down the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. We talk with Professor...

Duration: 01:37:43

Muslim Fictions: Interview with Dr. Noor Hashem

Muslim fictions and fictions about Muslims: we talk politics, stereotypes, and histories with Dr. Noor Hashem, expert on Muslim American literature. What are the ordinary, everyday, boring lives of Muslims in the United States? What is it like to be a person of faith in the academy and how does it inform one's work? Noor, Xine and Liz discuss points of intersection, activism, and ethical emotions. If tough love isn't doing it, what do we need? We end with a more recent interview with Dr....

Duration: 01:07:07

S03E15 | Whose Science? Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Harvard

Preparations for the Science March on Washington are underway! Whose science is it anyway? Liz brings us a group interview with aspiring physicists from the 2017 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Harvard. We get insight into how these young women are inspired to study different aspects of physics: from Instagram selfies to engineering to parental guidance to the thrill of knowing the wonders of the universe. How do you transition from a childhood love to your professional...

Duration: 00:44:45

S03E13 | Hip Hop Scholarship: Interview with Dr. Shahara'Tova V. Dente

Crystal Springs, Mississippi: two girls graduated from their small town high school and grew up to be Dr. Shahara'Tova "Shaye" Dente, English PhD, and our own Dr. Liz Wayne, TED Fellow. Shaye gives us insight into the research and teaching of hip hop, social movements, and hip hop literature. Xine and Liz interview Shaye about pipeline programs for underrepresented minorities to the question of what makes good literature. We talk Jay-Z, Drake, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Lil' Kim, Iggy Azalea...

Duration: 01:17:30

New Year's Resolutions 2017

Think positive, not punitive. How can we make resolutions that are not just individually-oriented? Make resolutions shared with friends, nominate good people for awards, buy a coffee/tea/drink/lunch for someone junior. We are trained in critique and then forget how compliments feed the human self. Xine and Liz are committed to making sure they lift others as they climb! The PhDivas are also dedicated to their own different approaches to body positivity -- but they're both aiming for...

Duration: 00:53:46

S03E11: End of 2016 Review

On New Year's Eve we go meta and reflect on our best moments, interviews, behind-the-scenes production, and the melanin contrast between us in our promo photos thanks to the inadequacies of phototechnology. We discuss what it means for us to be in public while academics are under attack in this post-Steven Salaita moment. How do we talk to each other in seminar, in question period, in our citations? As we climb, let's not forget to lift each other. Thank you to our amazing interviewees and...

Duration: 00:47:33

Dark Matter: Axions, Cosmology, & Being a Black Scientist; Interview w Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Would a Black physicist have called it "dark matter"? Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is the 63rd Black American woman to earn a PhD in physics and works on early universe cosmology and the dark matter problem. Xine and Liz talk to Chanda about the mysteries of the universe and the differing conundrums of being Black in the United States versus Canada. Literature emerges as a necessary form of education and survival -- shout out to the writings of Lawrence Hill and Langston Hughes! We discuss...

Duration: 01:17:02

Data is Us: Interview with Rumman Chowdhury

Blaming biased data and bad algorithms? Stop moral outsourcing to machines because data is a reflection of us! Liz and Xine interview Rumman Chowdhury, PhD candidate in political science and a full-time data scientist. We talk about how ethics, diversity, and social justice play an integral part in data, dubious robots, and the uneven development of data science through industry and academia. Beyond tin foil hats, we discuss everything from racist redlining in Chicago, philosopher Hannah...

Duration: 00:54:29

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