Harvard Sociology Professor Frank Dobbin will speak Oct. 6 at noon about what works and what doesn’t work to get more women and minorities into leadership positions.
Register for the event here.
Our first year of institutional transformation is coming to an end.
It’s been an amazing journey. We’ve hosted eight workshops and panels, engaged with UNM leaders at various levels, and worked for change on ideas ranging from aligning UNM and APS spring breaks, to decreasing inequities in service loads, to helping search committees find more diverse pools of candidates.
Read our newsletter to find out more about what we’ve been up to.AdvanceNewsletterFall2017 (1)
The vast majority of UNM faculty, graduate students, and staff strongly support having the university’s spring break at the same time of the break for Albuquerque Public Schools, a study by Advance at UNM has found.
Eighty two percent of faculty strongly support alignment while 79 percent of staff expressed strong support in the survey done earlier this year. Another 14 percent of faculty and graduate students somewhat support alignment, as do 15 percent of staff.
Only 4 percent of faculty, 5 percent of graduate students, and 6 percent of staff do not support aligning the breaks, according to the survey. Read more about the results, the methodology and the topic below.ADVANCE_SpringBreakAlignment_Report_Short
As part of the survey, we also asked for open-ended comments on the topic. See them here, arranged by group.
Hi Meta Mentor,
I am a faculty who has two little kids going to the Children’s Campus. UNM Children’s Campus is usually closed on the Thursday-Friday immediately before the academic year begins for professional development. These two days are very important for faculty and students prepare for the new academic year. Having no child care, parent faculty and students spend these two days taking care of kids. I wonder if the professional development days at UNMCC can be reorganized or rescheduled or refactored in ways that avoid a full closure of the child care center?
Assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr Lina Cui, is the recipient of a $1.89M grant, known as the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators (R35) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Since her recruitment from Stanford to UNM in 2015, Dr. Cui has been leading a research lab of five postdoctoral fellows, five doctoral students, and six undergraduate researchers. Dr. Cui’s laboratory is focused on the chemistry and biology of heparanase, a key enzyme involved in the remodeling processes of the extracellular matrix, which is related to an array of disease conditions such as inflammation and cancer.
Dr. Cui plans to build a research program that can study the role of heparanase using molecular imaging and novel chemical biology tools to be developed in the program.
“I am very grateful for the generous support from NIH. To better understand the role of heparanase, we need to have proper molecular tools,” she said. “The molecules we develop can visualize the activity of heparanase under various pathological conditions, thereby guiding our discovery in diagnostics and therapeutics for various diseases including cancer.”
The research is funded through July 2022.
What can we say about the writing challenge? In the end, neither of us made our goal of writing every day. Lindsay did get much more writing done than she would normally would have in the two weeks before classes begin, and Julia has never previously accomplished any progress on a writing project just before classes begin. We both declare Success! After two weeks of trying to write daily, here’s what we learned about ourselves:
Lindsay: When I write daily, it changes my relationship with the project. Within two days of daily engagement with my research, I found that my passion for the topic quickly grew. Because I was working every day, rather than in a blind panic after a missed deadline, I had the time to explore my ideas with more play and curiosity than I normally do. I found several online archival repositories and added new primary sources to my article. I read a book that had been published since I did my first literature review. I never would have done that without the time and space to explore my ideas more profoundly.
Julia: It has been years since I forced myself to work on a writing project (other than grant proposals!) daily. When I was a kid, I really enjoyed writing. I lost that somewhere a long time ago. I found writing the blog to be extremely enjoyable and some of this flowed back into my book chapter. I’m now trying to figure out how to work substantive writing back into my life.
Lindsay: Often the hardest part of writing for me is getting started. Knowing I would be writing each day and having just engaged with the article the day before, made my writing flow more quickly. There was less gear up to each writing session.
Julia: What she said! I don’t think this ever changes.
Lindsay: My most common feelings around writing projects are fear and dread. It’s probably because like many academics, by the time I really start working they are already late or about to be late. My time management strategy has been deal with the biggest fire first and let the rest smolder. That means that rather than seeing my writing projects as fun to explore new ideas, they are emergencies I must deal with as quickly as possible. It does help me get it done. But it doesn’t leave me wanting more. Writing daily left me wanting to write more. After each writing session, I thought to myself, I want to write more today. When can I sit down again? Most days I couldn’t find the time to do that, but the wanting to write was a new and unexpected outcome.
Julia: I’m pretty sure that being an academic administrator creates attention deficit disorder. For example, being a Department Chair is a half-time job – it is every other minute. In the last couple of years, I’ve been consciously working on my attention span, with varying amounts of success depending on the semester. (Wait – was that a hummingbird outside?) I was surprised to find myself looking forward to writing time somedays and wanting more time. I agree with Lindsay that this was an unanticipated outcome.
Lindsay: From the beginning of this challenge, I knew that my biggest roadblocks would be structural. That is why I put asking explicitly for help with childcare as one of my rules. Writing advice often has a strongly neoliberal, individualistic “try harder” underlying message. It’s about how individuals can overcome individual blocks, develop better attitudes, monitor and discipline themselves, and thereby be productive (i.e. good) academics. I’m not saying a little discipline wouldn’t help my writing, but the truth is with my commitments, it is very hard to find the focus and energy to do the hard work of writing. Like many pre-tenure academics, especially women, I am part of the sandwich generation: I have a small child and parents that for the first time this summer had health crises. Like most faculty at an R1, I have several active research projects all of which involve not only doing research, but also supervising and managing students and research personnel. As an anthropologist, I have to travel to my research sites and somehow manage family obligations as well. Add to this advising, service, teaching, new course preps, grant writing, professional development, and a few conference presentations and invited lectures each year and my time is two or three times overfilled. I can’t even imagine how post-tenure faculty and administrators keep all their various balls in the air. This is a challenging job that pulls our attention in many directions. One of the reasons I enjoyed the writing challenge is that it acknowledges writing as an essential part of our jobs, even if it is one that can usually get put on the back burner.
Julia: Lindsay’s description of the challenges of faculty life rings true for all of us. Associate professors have to manage larger service expectations and figure out a promotion path (ADVANCE at UNM has workshops to help you!). Academic administrators can find their calendars completely filled with meetings, leaving no time to do the work that is assigned in the meetings, much less write. There are different stressors at different phases in our careers – both personal and professional – and writing is frequently one of the first things to go. I have been thrilled to have Writing Challenge participants stop me while I’m walking across campus and volunteer that they have really appreciated this acknowledgement of the necessity of creating writing time.
Lindsay: I don’t currently have a writing group, but this challenge reminded me that I do writing best in conversation with others. It’s not so much the feedback I need (I have colleagues and peer review for that) but, rather cheerleaders and fellow travelers on the journey. It was great blogging with Julia on this challenge because I saw in her posts, many of my own negotiations, struggles, and roadblocks, despite our different disciplines and positions in our careers.
Julia: I’ve helped people organize writing groups, but have never been part of one. This has been a great experience, and blogging with Lindsay was important for me. The universalities of the writing struggle did become more apparent. I am still excited by the number of people who officially signed up and by the people who told me they were silently participating.
ADVANCE at UNM will have Shut Up and Write times in our space during the Fall to provide some friendly peer pressure and support. Let us know if you have other suggestions!
Lindsay: I have to write first thing in the morning if it’s going to happen. As soon as I check my email, game over. I tried writing at night before bed but I just didn’t have the willpower for it. So, for me, I must put writing first, literally by doing it first thing in the morning, and programmatically by building a community of writers and saying no to some of my other more visible commitments.
Julia: I expected to learn that I have to write first thing in the morning. Certainly, I am more likely to get it done if I do. But I found that if I really worked at it, I could (some days) find other times and make a little progress.
Overall, I learned that I could make progress on a writing project in small chunks of time. It isn’t the same quality as if I could set aside several hours a day, but it is considerably better quality than an empty page.
Thanks for writing with us these two weeks. YAY all of us! We hope that even if these weeks weren’t perfect, that you found a little time and space for writing. Share your final insights. Your successes. Your challenges. If you have any suggestions about how ADVANCE at UNM could support your writing and publishing, let us know.
Visiting Associate Professor Diana Northup received a new award from the National Park Service of $10,953.04 for her project “Assessing Western Bat Hibernacula for the Presence of Pseudogymnoascus,” until the end of the year of 2017.
Dr. Northup works with colleagues from the Subsurface Life In Mineral Environments (SLIME) Team.
“[We] are investigating how microbes help form the colorful ferromanganese deposits that coat the walls of Lechuguilla and Spider Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park,” she said.
Through her lab, Dr. Northup also leads other research projects, such as microbial diversity in Cueva de las Sardinas in Tabasco, Mexico, as well as the potential for white-nose syndrome (WNS) to infect New Mexico bats.
Advance at UNM recently received the National Science Foundation grant
funding for years three through five of our program. This means we are
now fully funded and will be able to continue our work recruiting and
retaining women and minorities in the STEM fields at UNM! We have a
busy schedule lined up for the fall semester.
Visit advance.unm.edu/events to see some of our programs. You can also check out our latest news on our website.
Associate Professor Melissa Binder received a continuation award for $59,273 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) until the end of August of 2017, for the New Mexico Evaluation Lab @ UNM.
“Many non-profit organizations want to know if their programs are working, but they have limited capacity to collect and analyze the data they need to find out.”
Dr. Binder is the director of the Master in Public Policy program at UNM. She analyzes data on childhood programs and family well-being, amongst other areas in the New Mexico community.
“The Lab brings students, faculty and policy center researchers together with organization staff to build technical data capacity” said Binder.
The lab initiated in the Fall of 2015 also with the help of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.