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  • Giving Names to the Dead: Building the Philippines' First Skeletal Reference Collection

    Matthew Go, PhD student in Anthropology, spots it tucked into the foundation of a building on the grounds of a cemetery in Manila. An old rice sack, bulging in place and covered in dirt and grime, partially decomposing. Inside, a jumbled collection of bones showing their age and exposure to the elements.

    Matt and fellow Illinois Anthropology PhD student, Amanda Lee, spent last summer in Manila creating the world’s first reference collection comprised exclusively of contemporary Filipino skeletons. Their salvage archaeology work and the new collection, housed at the University of the Philippines Diliman, may potentially help identify victims of criminal cases, mass disasters, mass fatality events, and mass graves throughout Southeast Asia.

  • Four Ways to Make Your Research Presentation Stand Out

    It’s after midnight, you’re taking a quick look at the slides for your research presentation the next morning, and you have this distressing thought: “I think my research is interesting, but will anyone else?” No one wants years of hard work to be met with blank stares or a fascinating discovery to be dismissed by wandering minds. Your research is interesting, but how do you get people to realize that?

  • 5 Tips for Talking about Your Work

    So, what do you do?

    This is a question graduate students hear frequently—whether from scholars in their field, people in an elevator, or family members. And while at first the answer might seem simple—it’s what you do every day, after all—finding ways to frame and explain your work to others can be a challenge. Thinking about your answer to this question is important since there are many situations when you might need to answer it: applying for fellowships or funding to support your work, job interviews or networking events, interviews with the media, or discussions with political leaders regarding policy. And recently, several UI students found themselves confronted with this question when former President Obama made an impromptu coffeehouse stop during his visit to campus!

    Below are some tips for talking about your work to help you prepare no matter the situation.

  • Day in the Life: Liselle Milazzo

    Hello everyone!

    My name is Liselle and I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. My research interest is on film-tourism, specifically looking at sites of imagination (think Harry Potter World and Hogwarts!), in order to investigate culture, commodification, and meaning. This summer, I'm preparing for prelims and wrestling with big ideas related to theory and methodology for my work. It feels like everday I read something inspiring and thought-provoking!  In my department, the Prelim exam takes place before you can begin work on your dissertation proposal. I’m planning to take my prelim exam this fall, so I’m dedicating my summer to preparing for the exam. Here’s a look at a pretty typical day of prelim prep for this social sciences PhD student!

  • Grad School 101: Get to Know the Scholarly Commons

    During open hours, the Scholarly Commons provides the technology and digital scholarship expertise you need to succeed in your research. We’re also a quiet comfortable study space where you can sip your coffee and use software like STATA, Photoshop, and SAS. Come to our workshops during the school year and go from Regular Boring Researcher to Savvy Researcher.

  • Meet Ana Martin: Fulbright Research Fellow in Barcelona, Spain

    Hola! My name is Ana Martin, I am a 6th year PhD student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Illinois. This month has been pretty exciting for me as it marks the beginning of my Fulbright Research Fellowship in Spain. Although it was a long process getting here, I’m excited to embark on the adventure of living abroad while I complete my PhD research at the University of Barcelona. For anyone interested in teaching English or conducting research abroad, I highly recommend applying for a Fulbright Fellowship. Hopefully through this post you will gain some insight into the application process and some aspects of moving abroad.

  • 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.

  • Grad School 101: Getting Ready for Your First Conference Presentation

    Conference presentations are a curious genre. While they can draw from seminar papers, lab reports, and/or research proposals, moving from a written text to a spoken one—and delivering your work—can present a range of unique challenges. 

    Below are some tips and tricks that can help you get in the mindset of giving a conference talk, especially if you’re new to sharing your work in this way.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Grad School 101: Copyright and Your Thesis

    Copyright can be a tricky topic for students working on their theses. With complex contractual language and so many rules and exceptions, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Luckily, University of Illinois Copyright Librarian Sara Benson is here to help!

  • 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. 

  • Your Work Is Vital, Tell the World about It

    Laura Adamovicz is hard at work saving the world — one turtle at a time. Last year Laura, a PhD candidate in Comparative Biosciences, won first place in Research Live! — a competition that challenges graduate students to describe their work in three minutes or less. In her talk, titled “Turtles in Trouble: Applications of Health Assessment for Conservation,” Laura explained how her work combines math, science, and medicine to study the impact of the environment and infectious diseases on several box turtle populations, with the ultimate goal of improving conservation efforts in animal species.

    We checked in with Laura (who will serve as a judge at this year’s competition) to hear about why she decided to participate in Research Live! and to see where her research and fieldwork has taken her this past year.

  • Grad School 101: Sustainability and the Productive Life

    A critical aspect of our work in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is encouraging a sustainable student experience. In this post, Daniel Wong talks about how we think of sustainability, especially in relation to the concept of productivity, and how you can maximize your effectiveness while finding balance and purpose in your work.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.