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  • Meet Our Fellows: Matt Haugen, Fulbright Fellow studying Chinese Sport Industry

    Last April, after nearly a yearlong process and an arduous wait, Matthew Haugen was notified that he had been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, which would allow him the opportunity to complete his dissertation research project studying sport education in China. His fellowship experience ultimately encouraged him to pivot his dissertation research project to better represent and inform the future he sees for himself as a scholar.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Matthew Klopfenstein, Fulbright Fellow in Moscow

    Matthew Klopfenstein has spend the last seven months deep in the world of Russian archives exploring how the deaths of female pop stars in the early 1900s entered the public realm and became national phenomena. Read about Matthew's day to day life as a Fulbright Fellow living in Moscow, Russia.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Nubras Samayeen, American Association of University Women

    When she finishes her degree at Illinois, Nubras Samayeen may be the first woman in Bangladesh to hold a PhD in Landscape Architecture. This is the realization of a goal she's had since she was a child and is, in no small part, something she's doing for her own two young daughters and for other Bangladeshi women who, like her, have unconventional dreams. Here’s her story.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Raquel Escobar, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow

    Graduate education prepares you for many ways to positively impact the world around you. For Raquel Escobar, recent doctoral graduate in History, the opportunity to have a broad and active impact on the community comes through a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship. The fellowship allows Escobar to marry her scholarly expertise in history, memory and public humanities with a position at the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Safiyah Muhammad, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow

    Ford Fellow Safiyah Muhammad says that she learned to teach from the best – her mom. Her mother homeschooled her before she was old enough to enroll in kindergarten and served as her fourth grade teacher as well. “She never limited me in what I could do. She never told me I was too young. She was my very first and obviously most impactful teacher,” Safiyah said. With the help of the Ford Fellowship, she hopes to channel that feeling into her work as a researcher, teacher, and scholar at Illinois.

  • Meet the 2019 - 2020 SAGE Board Members

    Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE) is a student advisory board and leadership opportunity for graduate students at Illinois that fosters active engagement with Graduate College programs and initiatives. SAGE board members enrich graduate student community, build leadership and administrative skills, and strengthen Graduate College services and programs. As we embark on a new academic year, we are excited to introduce our 2019 - 2020 SAGE board!

  • More Than Just Buzzwords: Social Media as a Tool for Personal Branding in STEM

    nspired by nothing more than a joking remark from a colleague on the importance of securing a unique domain name before someone “stole it,” I made my personal website, RituRaman.com, in my second year of graduate school. Luckily for me, launching this website was the first step in an ongoing attempt to develop a coherent web presence and recognizable personal brand.

    Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that terms like “personal brand” can often come across as meaningless buzzwords used by millennials to justify a relatively self-centered use of social media. When used without context, they make me cringe and feel pretentious – and I understand if they make you do the same – but this blog post isn’t about the philosophical clash between personal modesty and taking selfies. Rather, this post is about crafting your online presence in a way that best represents your personal history, your interests, and your future goals.

    Now that we’ve moved past the obligatory disclaimers, I will attempt to distill the social media lessons I’ve learned over the past few years into a few pithy steps.

  • Navigating the Surprising Stress of a Job Offer

    Looking for a job can be pretty terrible, and it’s often a long slog. Amid that stretched-out stress, it’s easy to start thinking of a job offer as a kind of holy grail, a singular solution to all your problems. But what I see over and over again, among the hundreds of graduate students I advise each year, is that the job offer is often its own source of emotional turmoil. A sudden offer, or the sense that one might be incoming, can prompt as much panic as delight.

  • New Year - New Thesis Goals

    It’s February and your New Year’s resolutions have started to become habit… or fallen by the wayside. Fortunately, there’s still 11 months in the year to make your thesis a priority. The start of the new year and the new semester is a great time to think about what direction you would like your thesis work to go and to make plans accordingly. Below are five tips to help you set (and stick with) thesis-writing goals.

  • On the Job Hunt: How to Keep Your Options Open

    In the coming months, facing uncertainty head-on and doing what you can to prepare for multiple possible job outcomes is the best thing you can do for your future self, advises Derek Attig.

  • Postcards from the Field: Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security

    In June, I had the distinct privilege of representing the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) at the 2017 U.S. Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security. Led by Purdue University’s Center for Global Food Security, the 2017 Summer Institute provided 40 of the top graduate students from across the nation with an intensive introduction to global food security, with special emphasis on the utility of multidisciplinary teams and complex problem solving of real-world challenges. 

  • Postcards from the Field: Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore

    Excite, engage, enable. These three words are the driving mission behind the gathering of over 250 PhD and postdoctoral fellows at the Global Young Scientists Summit of 2017 in Singapore. Eric Epstein, Shama Barna, Gregory Hart and I had the distinct pleasure of representing the University of Illinois at this year’s summit.

  • Postcards from the Field: Human Occupation and Competition for Resources in Laos and Vietnam

    The humidity outside of the sprawling cavern is oppressive, but in the murky depths of Tam Pa Ling it is cool, almost cold. We sit in a 5 meter deep pit under flickering generator-powered lights, squeezing the clay soil through our fingers, looking for the remains of our ancestors. The precision of my traditional archaeology training is thrown out the window as the team scrabbles at the muddy soil with hands and trowels, feeling more than seeing anything contained within the clay. Tam Pa Ling, or the Cave of the Monkeys, is located in northern Laos and since its discovery in 2008 has been a site of emerging human fossils that continue to push the date of human occupation in Southeast Asia back.

  • Postcards from the Field: Inheriting the City Conference in Taipei

    Last month, I traveled to Taipei with my fellow PhD candidate in Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Lassamon Maitreemit, and our dissertation adviser, Lynne Dearborn. Lassmon and I presented our dissertation projects to international cultural heritage academics and experts at the “Inheriting the City: Advancing Understanding of Urban Heritage” meeting. “Inheriting the City” afforded me the opportunity to share my work with some of the best minds in heritage preservation and now my name and ideas are out in community. I got great feedback on my project and have motivation to move forward with my work on a larger scale. Both during sessions and in our free time, Taipei offered great hospitality, so much to see and do, and warm weather!

  • Postcards from the Field: Interviewing in Rural Tanzania

    You never know what you will find when you sit down to interview someone. Where have they lived? Who have they worked for? What challenges have they overcome? Who have they lost? After explaining that I am a history graduate student conducting research about gender change and the role of the church in Tanzanian society, I usual start by asking the most basic question. What is your name? It turns out that the answer isn’t always simple.

  • Postcards from the Field: Investigating Sustainable International Development in Ecuador

    In May I had the opportunity to travel to Lumbisi, Ecuador, to study what makes international engineering design projects sustainable and durable. With a team of other graduate and undergraduate students and three faculty members, we spent two weeks conducting surveys and interviews and learning the cultural, political, and social atmosphere of the Lumbisi. 

    Many international engineering projects (think water distribution systems, water filtration, agricultural irrigation systems, etc.) are rooted in good intentions: technically trained people want to use their skills to better those around the world who are less fortunate than themselves. But sadly, many of these good intentions lead to projects, especially in rural communities, that ultimately fail. The research in Lumbisi is designed to understand the importance of viewing an engineering project holistically, even if it seems purely technical at first glance. 

  • Postcards from the Field: Setting Up Research Collaborations in India

    We landed in Bangalore International Airport after a journey of about 20 hours then took a bus for 6.5 hours to reach our destination: Shimoga - the original site of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) and the topic of my dissertation. Shimoga is part of the Malenadu region which means ‘heavy rainfall’ region in Kannada, which is the local language. The landscape of Shimoga is interesting; it is crisscrossed with tons of paddy fields, coconut trees, areca, paper and rubber plantations. 

    Nestled in the Western Ghats of India, Shimoga is the district headquarter and our primary location for research on the epidemiology of KFD, a highly infectious disease system transmitted by ticks in India.

  • Postcards from the Field: The Future of Science at the Lindau Meeting

    What is the future of science? How can scientists better impact society? These are just two examples of the many profound questions that I had the opportunity to ponder and discuss at the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting that took place in July. The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a gathering of Nobel Laureates and young scientists (undergrads, grads, and postdocs) from around the world with the purpose of engaging in an international and intergenerational science dialogue. 

  • Putting the Break Back into Winter Break: Managing Work and Play During Winter Break

    Semester breaks are the perfect time for some relaxation, spending time with friends and family, and filling up on delicious holiday snacks. But for graduate students working on their theses, winter breaks also mean ample time to get some research and writing done. During my seven-year career as a graduate student, I’ve spent plenty of time trying to achieve the best of both worlds. Though balancing data analysis and cookie baking can be difficult, below are a few tips to help you maximize your research time, and still have fun during the holiday season.

  • Radical Healing / Collective Thriving

    Getting work done looks very different today than it did at the beginning of the Spring semester. For Amir Maghsoodi, PhD student in Educational Psychology, the shift from in-person, clinical counseling training has offered time to deepen his social justice work with the Radical Healing Collective, a group of psychology scholars who work in issues of culture, ethnicity, and race. 

  • Regular Blog Contributors

    Meet the regular contributors to the GradLIFE blog.

  • Resilient and Ready to Lead, Teachers Make the World a Better Place

    In a time of uncertainty, as instruction and learning transition to digital technologies, College of Education students have an important message to share.

  • Robin Holland: On Taking Chances

    Robin Holland, dual degree candidate in Pathobiology and Veterinary Medicine, doesn’t hesitate to throw her hat in the ring when contests and opportunities present themselves. Robin was awarded People’s Choice at the inaugural Research Live! competition last fall and took home first place in Image of Research the preceding spring.

    As if that weren’t impressive enough, Robin was awarded a prestigious NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for individuals pursuing dual-doctoral degrees, both a PhD and an MD, DVM, or other medical doctoral degree. This award was created to increase the pool of highly trained clinician-scientists in the biomedical research workforce.

    We sat down with Robin to pick her brain about her career, academic contests, and getting involved. Read on for the interview.

  • Roots, Routes, and Returns: Discovering an Effective Writing Process as a Graduate Writer

    It might surprise you if I were to share that first as an MA student and now as a PhD student in English (Literature emphasis) here at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I have accumulated several 9 x 12 or 8.5 x 11 spiral-bound sketchbooks and that they have played a central role in helping me discover an effective writing process. So too have I used up the last drops of ink in a fair number of colorful pens and markers when writing across these surfaces. Thinking and writing for me, then, are inextricably linked in a visual and tactile process.

  • SAGE Advice for My Past Self

    We caught up with some of the members of this year’s SAGE (Students Advising on Graduate Education) board to ask them just one question: If you could give your first-year-grad student self one piece of advice, what would it be?

    Their responses were funny, honest, and totally on point.

  • Sloan UCEM at Illinois Helps Underrepresented Students Pursue Advanced Degrees and Career Paths

    “Illinois is committed to the goal of achieving diversity and excellence,” says Dr. Ellen Wang Althaus, director of Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM). 

    The Sloan UCEM at Illinois is one of the eight centers in the country funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. With a one-million-dollar, three-year grant, the Illinois UCEM was created to broaden participation and provide support for underrepresented minority graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. It  provides activities designed to support students toward doctorate completion, such as professional development opportunities, mentoring, research opportunities, workshops, and seminars. 

  • Staying Active while Sheltering at Home

    Many of us grew up with a very rigid conception of ‘exercise’ that involves participation in a ‘formal’ exercise program, or joining a gym or fitness club, this kind of exercise almost always involves wearing special clothes, traveling to an exercise facility, and finding time in a busy schedule to fit it all in. There are countless enjoyable and creative ways to build physical activity into a daily routine, even during the cornavirus.

  • Staying Creative During Quarantine

    Staying creative during quarantine can be challenging. New work conditions with more, or less, distractions and commitments, fewer in person arts and entertainment opportunities in your community, and an atmosphere of stress and uncertainty can all negatively affect creativity. In this interview, Nic Morse, Digital Media Specialist (and our in house illustrator!) checks in with Vincent Carlson, a PhD student in Theatre at Illinois to chat about what creativity and engagement with the arts looks like for him during COVID-19.

  • Staying Organized During a Job Search

    In his newest article on Inside Higher Education, Director of Career Services, Derek Attig, gives his tips for staying organized on the job search. 

  • Stop the Hamster Wheel: Making Plans in Grad School

    Graduate school can sometimes feel like running on a hamster wheel, like you’re in constant motion but not really sure that you’re getting anywhere.

    There are a ton of one-week deadlines (I have to write that literature review by Tuesday!) and a few five-year deadlines (I’ll defend my dissertation!), but bridging the gaps between those can be tough. And that makes it hard to figure out whether you’re headed in the right direction. Planning can help you build those bridges effectively, preparing you to make choices with your goals in mind so you don’t just keep spinning until you’re dizzy.

    So what makes a good plan? What will help you leave the wheel to the hamsters and make the most of grad school? Here are some approaches we recommend...

  • Stuck in a Rut: Exploring an Outside Interest Can Shape your Grad School Experience

    “I think a common experience for grad students, particularly at major research institutions, is the single-minded focus on producing excellent research. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision and lose track of what you are excited or passionate about. And, it’s easy to get caught up in a pattern of obsessing about whether you’re smart enough or ‘good’ enough.” Kaye Usry, PhD candidate in Political Science, said. “I was feeling a lot of pressure to meet these expectations that, when it came down to it, I was really setting for myself. It wasn't healthy or good for me.” It was at that point that Kaye started exploring ways to engage with the community and issues that were important to her, outside of her research.

  • Takeaways from the Wellness Fair for Graduate Students

    We’re in the home stretch of the Fall semester and winter break is tantalizing close, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before the last exam is submitted. On Wednesday, November 9, The Graduate College hosted the first Graduate Student Wellness Fair to help graduate students take control of their health and wellness for the rest of the semester and beyond. The Wellness Fair featured dedicated staff and students from across the university representing the many resources that our campus has to offer for practicing self-care, work-life balance, campus safety, and stress management, to name a few.

    As a graduate student, it is important to remember that if we do not practice adequate self-care, we are at higher risk of burning out (which isn’t good for anyone, including the precious research we work so hard on). For those students who did not attend the Wellness Fair, here are some highlights of campus resources that will put you in tip top shape faster than you can say winter break.

  • Taking Classes Online? These Tips Will Help

    Online learning has gained a prominent place in our everyday lives since mid-March, when the university switched to a fully online format of instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are a returning online student or taking some of your first grad school classes online, staying organized and connecting with your peers online can all help you be successful. SAGE member and PhD candidate Olnancy Tzirides provides tips she’s learned from her research and teaching experience in online learning.

  • Teaching (and Learning) Beyond the Classroom

    For many Illinois graduate students, the classroom is just one avenue for teaching and learning. We asked three graduate students to reflect on their experiences working with programs that served middle school, high school, and incoming graduate students. Although their research interests and programs differ, they shared a common outcome. Through mentoring, they’d learned as much as they taught.  They shared their thoughts with Grad Life.

  • Teaching and Performing to Find Her Voice

    The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is a hub for exquisite music, cultural performances, ballet performances, theater, opera and lively events. From performances by musical virtuosos, symphony orchestras, ensemble groups to events like PechaKucha Night and Noche de Baila- Krannert is bustling with performers and audience goers year-round! The Lyric Theater at Krannert brings colorful and vibrant pieces of opera from throughout the ages alive to the audience!

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Genre

    Mystery and suspense, a hero going on a quest…why am I talking about this in a blog post about proposal writing?  Because when you write about your research, you’re writing a story of ideas that explores uncharted intellectual territory. As you’ve developed your skills and knowledge of the field, you’ve identified a gap in what we know and a means by which you believe you can fill it. That’s what makes proposal writing a special genre.

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Roadmap

    In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the proposal as a genre — the story of your journey into uncharted intellectual territory, driven by a vision of your contribution to your discipline and beyond. Your reviewers are excited! They want to help you complete your journey! But, they want some details. The proposal is the roadmap you provide.

    There is no right or wrong way to structure a proposal. There may be disciplinary norms or funder guidelines, which is why it is essential to look at successful proposals in your discipline and read the program solicitation carefully.  Regardless of the structure, there are some commonalities in proposals across all disciplines and funders. Here are some tips for putting together a good roadmap for the reviewers...

  • Thesis Summer Reading List

    No matter if you’re studying for exams or working on your thesis, chances are your summer reading list is full of books and articles that pertain to your research area. But why not mix things up a little by adding a few to help with your writing and research skills?

    Emily asked several campus experts to recommend books that could help students who are working on their theses. Their suggestions range in topic from strengthening your writing and research skills to conquering productivity to finding relaxation. Check out their suggestions!

  • Using Job Ads for Career Exploration

    Reviewing advertisements of all sorts can help you identify appealing job types and sectors that you may never even have heard of, advises Derek Attig in this post originally published on Inside Higher Ed.

  • Welcome to Grad Life, a New Blog about the Illinois Graduate Experience

    Welcome to Grad Life. With over 10,000 graduate students on the Urbana Campus, there are as many narratives to the University of Illinois Grad experience as there are individuals.  Our grads hail from all corners of the world and are researching, studying, and teaching to try to solve some of the toughest problems of our time. Whether you’re attending classes in person or online, pursuing a Master’s degree or a PhD - this is a place to share and shape your graduate school experience.

  • What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?

    It’s well-known that academic jobs are in short supply for humanities PhD graduates right now, but the question ‘what can I do with a PhD in the humanities?’ should have less to do with a lack of academic positions than it should the sheer number of career possibilities. That was the focus of ‘What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?’, a 5-week Graduate College workshop run by Derek Attig that I attended last Spring. The workshop covered advice and resources for finding jobs beyond academia, weekly conversations with humanities PhD graduates working in fields like public radio to environmental advocacy, and self-assessments of values and skills. The self-assessments were particularly illuminating, and they allowed each of us to approach the broader workshop questions with a focus on our own goals and interests.

  • What exactly is professional development, anyway?

    When people talk about ‘professional development’, they tend to emphasize the ‘professional’ part. The type of capital P professional development, that in many people’s minds, is a formal process with a defined beginning and end. But this type of thinking minimizes the ‘development’ part, which is really where the growth takes place. 

  • What I Wish I Had Known while Writing my Thesis: Tips and Advice from Grad College Staff

    When Emily began working at the Graduate College, she had just taken her final exam and was revising her dissertation. This task coupled with working full-time ended up being much more stressful than she could have imagined. Little did she know that Coble Hall is full of talented individuals who knew first-hand the struggles of completing a thesis and were happy to share their stories and advice. Read on for some of the feedback she found helpful!

  • What's It Like to Compete in Research Live? Hear from a few pros.

    Each year, the Graduate College hosts the event Research Live!, which gives graduate students a chance to share their work with the campus and community and to practice their communication skills. The catch? Contestants only have 3 minutes to describe their work and it needs to be accessible to a generalist audience. Last year, a number of students took the challenge. We interviewed four about their experience and got some of their tips for public speaking. 

  • What to Do Immediately After an Interview

    You just finished a job interview. Moments ago, you hung up the phone or arrived back at your hotel room. What should you do next?

    In his most recent article for Inside Higher Ed, Derek Attig talks about things you can do in just 15 to 30 minutes to set yourself up for success in the next stages of the hiring process and beyond. This advice applies to any kind of job search -- whether in or outside academe.

  • What We Learned at the Faculty Job Search Retreat

    On an especially hot and muggy day last month, nearly 250 graduate students and postdocs peeled themselves away from the bench, left the library, set aside their dissertations, and trekked over to the Illini Union for the Graduate College’s seventh annual Faculty Job Search Retreat.

    The retreat featured sessions on application documents of all kinds (cover letters! teaching philosophies! research statements!), helping attendees get ready to write excellent materials. But as it is every year, the highlight of the day was a panel of faculty members who offered a window into everyday life and hiring practices at their very different institutions. This year’s guests were: James Matthews, Associate Professor of French at Illinois Wesleyan University; Angela Glaros, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Eastern Illinois University; and Jeremy Guest, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois.

    Since not all of you could attend this year, we thought we would share some highlights in the form of 3 tips from our panelists....

     

  • Where Are They Now?: Adam Brandt

    Adam Brandt graduated from the University of Illinois in 2014 with his PhD in Animal Sciences. With his love for teaching and research (some of his studies have focused on African elephants and the Hispanolan solenodon), a university job fit his career goals perfectly. Now, as an Assistant Professor of Biology at St. Norbert College (De Pere, Wisconsin), he teaches a variety of undergraduate courses including general biology, animal behavior, disease ecology, and African wildlife conservation & health, and conducts research in the field of molecular ecology.

  • Where Are They Now? Alison Goebel

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

  • Where Are They Now?: Amber Hendricks

    Amber Hendricks graduated from the Illinois Professional Science Master’s Program in 2011 with a master’s degree in Agricultural Production. She has held multiple research positions in the agricultural industry and currently works for Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™ as a Production Research Scientist at the Johnston, Iowa campus. In her role, she uses data to inform decision-makers on best practices for improving corn seed quality and cornfield yields.

  • Where Are They Now? April Warren-Grice

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    April Warren-Grice completed her PhD in Educational Policy Studies in 2014. Now, she works with K-12 public school districts and schools on issues of equity in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska while also teaching graduate courses in the graduate social justice certificate program as the Coordinator for Professional Development and Assistant Professor of Curriculum Instruction at Midwest Equity Assistance Center (MEAC) at Kansas State University.