Mama PhD

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

April 7, 2013 - 2:35pm
As recorded here last week, my extended family recently traveled to Ireland. The trip, especially the Belfast portion, was deeply moving, disturbing and important to us all, given our family's history of disowning and abandoning members because of religious differences. And being in Ireland over Easter weekend — a pivotal time in the history of Irish Republicanism — reinforced our feeling that our family's history was a valid part of a much larger story.
April 4, 2013 - 8:52pm
One would think that an economist who teaches math, including one math class that teaches the statistical program SPSS, would be very knowledgeable about how computers work. Alas, that is not actually the case. While I use computer programs to do my research, and write SAS and Fortran programs to do so, the actual workings of the computers that I depend on are still quite a mystery to me. My father was an electrical engineer, and therefore had more of a sense of how these mysterious boxes turned what are basically “on” and “off” switches into the tools that make my life possible. I, however, went to college in the final years before the personal computer became a fixture in our homes, and had very little education as to how they work. Much of my early research was done on mainframes (either locally or remotely), and I still find myself with a sense of ignorance about personal computers.
April 3, 2013 - 8:52pm
As I was cleaning out the refrigerator the other day, I was reminded of Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift, which describes the extra burden of work that falls to women once they are at home. Then, it occurred to me that, because I was cleaning out the office refrigerator (who leaves vanilla frosting and a stick of margarine in a communal refrigerator anyway?), this work was a part of my first shift, even though it appears nowhere in my job description. This made me wonder whether women face not only extra work at home but also hidden tasks throughout their workday.
April 2, 2013 - 8:00pm
Every once in a while I have the chance to put together a new lecture on a topic I find so compelling, it’s difficult to know what information to leave out.  These days I’m putting together a series of biodiversity lectures and hands-on activities for a course I’m teaching next month, and planning these is like eating candy, they’re such a treat.  I’m especially giddy about the chance to talk about bird diversity, as much for my own interest as for the chance to look at lectures from years back with fresh eyes.
April 1, 2013 - 8:42pm
The last few weeks of the semester have a feeling of both desperation and joy about them. Joy comes for me at the approach of spring—the cherry tree outside my office window just bloomed, so I know it’s really here now. But there’s desperation at the amount of work that remains to be done. My students are tired. Some are sick—I have received emails from the hospital emergency room, the doctor’s office, the dorm room, requesting extra time for papers due to illness or explaining an absence from class. Some are just experiencing the normal stresses of the end of the semester—the realization that, yes, all those papers really are due all at once, and the reading really does need to be done before class.
March 31, 2013 - 5:24pm
I am writing this on a bus from Dublin to Belfast. Bill and Ben, my brother and sister-in-law, one of my nephews, and my cousin and her husband are all taking the trip.
March 27, 2013 - 8:20pm
I attended the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) this past weekend.  Ken Burns, who was raised in Ann Arbor by a college professor dad, and claims to have seen his “first breasts” on the screen of the Michigan Theatre was also present. The festival is internationally known for showcasing experimental filmmakers such as Andy Warhol, Barbara Hammer and Pat O’Neill, whose work was featured this year. Historical documentaries by Burns, which cover a good swath of American history and are used in educational settings around the globe, are not typically included in the experimental or underground film categories.
March 27, 2013 - 4:00am
As of January it had been 15 years since I last taught a class. That was back when I was a student. This winter quarter (which just ended - a fast and furious ten weeks!), I jumped at an opportunity to teach an introductory biology lab.
March 24, 2013 - 4:05pm
Last week I took part in a musical improv scene in which my friends A and L were the protagonists. The premise of the scene was that they had murdered A's husband (played by J) to clear the way so they could get married. J's body was sprawled on the floor, and it was creeping A out, so L  called offstage for the butler (played by me) to "get rid of this mess, will you?" I answered, "My pleasure, sir," and went to drag J offstage.
March 21, 2013 - 8:39pm
There is a concept in math called “one to one correspondence”, in which members of one set may be matched with members of another set, so that each member of one set is matched with exactly one member from the other set. I thought of this concept lately when I found myself working one-on-one with several of my students as they struggled to master some difficult concepts from the class they were taking.




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