Mimicking the professionals

tiffany-yangMajor things I learned this past summer:

1. Data is tricksy. Also, an illusion.

2. There are cool Excel functions (to be discovered while frantically putting information together).

3. I only kid myself in thinking that I will be calm and collected before giving a presentation.

In all seriousness, I did learn a lot from all the various projects I worked on this past summer, as well as on my own research. One project, a partnership between SPH, the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Kinesiology, allowed me to participate in the formation of a collaboration between disciplines that I never thought of putting in the same sentence. I also got engaged in a series of faculty hires, acting as a student voice. This has been really interesting to be a part of, a real fly-on-the-wall experience. It has really made me evaluate my ideas about what is involved in becoming a faculty member; the work, the knowledge, and the dedication (as well as the thick skin and willingness to take criticism as motive for improvement) to research, teaching, and academic politics.

Early in the spring I had submitted, and been accepted, to give an oral presentation (I had previously only ever had poster presentations) at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology meeting in Basel, Switzerland. First of all, let me just say that, yes, Switzerland is beautiful. Yes, there was cheese. And, cows. I was surprised to see that they wore bells (large ones!) that are really loud; the sounds of a herd grazing in the hills is one of my fondest memories of my time there.

The conference itself was somewhat of an agitated blur because my presentation was on the last day, so I had the entire week to obsess over my presentation, tweaking one thing or another. In anticipation of all the meet-and-greets, I had business cards made and, although I felt kind of ridiculous with them given my student status, it was really handy to have them on hand (ha!) to pass out after an interaction. I definitely met a few people that I plan to keep my research eye on, and it was also really nice to interact with people from your department in a totally different environment. Some people you never see, except in passing while walking down the hallway, and, suddenly, you have a week of quality time. In spite of all my imagined horrors, my presentation went well and I was pleased with the comments that my results generated. It was also neat to see the presentations of SPH faculty and fellow students. I am always stunned by the breadth and depth of research that goes on around here; everyone is their own island of information and the archipelago that I consider to be the school is just one big bag of amazing.

In closing, I have to say that I have been having an incredibly hard time finding a bike parking spot in front of SPH. While this fact makes me really happy, the casual observations I’ve been making about said bikers and their lack of helmets does not.

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