Grad LIFE

blog navigation

blog posts

  • How to Defend Your Dissertation, Virtually: Tips on Preparing, Presenting, and Celebrating from a New PhD

    On March 24, one day after in-person meetings and instruction at the university were halted and moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nitasha Mathayas earned a new title: PhD. She delivered her dissertation defense—on students’ sensemaking using gesture-augmented simulations—via Zoom to her committee of Curriculum & Instruction faculty, her family, and friends. Over the next several weeks, many doctoral students will face the same situation. Here, Nitasha shares her experience and advice for holding a successful virtual dissertation defense.

  • Where Are They Now? Daniel Harnos

    A close call with a tropical cyclone as a child led Daniel Harnos to become fascinated with the weather. This led him to earn degrees in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois in 2010 (MS) and 2014 (PhD). Now, he works as Meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Climate Prediction Center where he helps others prepare for weather and climate changes by delivering real-time meteorological information and forecasts.

  • 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.

  • Where Are They Now?: Irisbel Guzman Sanchez

    Irisbel Guzman Sanchez graduated from the University of Illinois in 2015 with a PhD in Biochemistry. After graduation, she became a Presidential Management Fellow which led to a full-time position in Health Informatics for the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). She is currently a Health Science Specialist for the VA New England Healthcare System, where she analyzes data and develops new tools for decision-makers to better understand operational healthcare databases and analyses.

  • 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.

  • Where Are They Now? Mariela Fernandez

    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?".

    Mariela Fernandez graduated from Illinois in 2015 with a PhD in Recreation, Sport and Tourism and a minor from the Latina/Latino Studies Program. Now, she works at Clemson University as an Assistant Professor. Her research examines why lack of access to park and recreation resources occurs in Latino communities, what the health implications of this are, and what strategies can be used to address the problem.

  • 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.