June 22, 2013 by Dr. G
Today was a full day of CUR business at the CUR Business Meeting at Chapman University. After a not-too-bad night’s sleep in my dorm room (most of us are staying in the dorms here on campus), I headed to the campus cafeteria to grab some breakfast with other CUR Councilors. I sat down with one of the new CUR Councilors in Geosciences, Erik Klemetti. I know a handful of my students may be thinking… where do I know that name? It may not be the name you recognized, but I know some of you have sent me links to posts on Erik’s Eruptions blog on the Wired Science website. We had a great discussion about blogging – why do we do it, how do our colleagues and institutions view faculty blogging, how easy/difficult it is to get students to blog, etc. I’ve been following Erik on Twitter for some time, so it was nice to put a “person” with a Twitter handle (@eruptionsblog).
First up for the morning – committee and task force meetings. All of the councilors broke apart from their divisions and met to discuss as groups the other functions and programming of CUR that is organized and led by councilors, such as awards, publications, nominations, etc. A handful of us GeoCUR Councilors met to discuss what else we could be doing as GeoCUR. Our division has led several faculty mentoring workshops over the years, going well back into the 1990’s. In the past couple of years, we established a GeoCUR Undergraduate Research Mentor Award and created an excellent resource on the SERC website for Undergraduate Research as a Teaching Practice. But, what else can/should we be doing? What is our next “big idea,” or big project? We brainstormed lots of great ideas, some that I’m really looking forward to us putting into practice. (Sorry – we’re not ready to announce these ideas yet!)
The day continued with a plenary session to discuss advocacy by/for CUR and the CUR Constitution. After a Mexican-themed buffet lunch, we met with our divisions again and shared the discussions from the morning’s committee meetings. I led a mini-discussion about updating our GeoCUR website and moving it over to WordPress. I’m really excited about this upgrade, which is very-much needed, but will take alot of time to make it happen. But I am more than willing to do this for GeoCUR – it is something I can contribute that will benefit the division and even non-members of CUR. I can’t wait to get started on the upgrade!
During the Business Meeting, the CUR Executive Officer takes the time to recognize the councilors and division chairs that have completed their terms of service. The CUR Office also gives out awards for volunteer of the year, division of the year, and committee of the year. GUESS WHO WON DIVISION OF THE YEAR????
OK, so the cake says “committee” instead of “division” – but we know who we are! We were all so surprised but thrilled to be selected for this honor. It was announced we were selected because of the work we do on behalf of CUR in connection with other national organizations, such as the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union. Go, team!
After feasting on cake, the entire group participated in “CUR Connection,” a series of games that involved trivia, finding random items people had on them (nail clipper, purple glass frames, etc.), and overall just getting to know other people in CUR that we haven’t had a chance to meet or interact with yet. I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the meeting – at all. I do not like the “get to know you” games that are done on campuses and at conferences, but I have to admit, MeLisa from the CUR National Office had us all laughing and having a good time.
After a dinner outdoors on campus and a reception, we were treated to a screening of the film Naturally Obsessed and a Skype session with one of the people from the documentary. Here is a description of the movie:
Mixing humor and heartbreak, Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist delves into the lab of charismatic professor Dr. Lawrence Shapiro, and follows three irrepressible graduate students on their determined pursuit of a PhD and scientific success. As if the pressure of scientific discovery isn’t enough, the students are also competing in a worldwide race to be the first to publish their findings. Their challenge: to decipher the structure and mechanism of AMPK, a tiny protein that controls the burning and storage of fat. Their road to success: years of trial and error, unflinching dedication, rock-climbing, rumors of pickle juice, and the music of The Flaming Lips.
You can watch the movie for yourself, and/or view the prelude below.
Dr. Lawrence Shapiro from the film held a Skype session with us after the showing, and we were able to ask him questions relating to doing science research and mentoring students. It was really unique and a special opportunity to be able to connect with Dr. Shapiro after learning about him and his students through the movie – an opportunity that does not come up very often. The biology lab featured in this film was not the same environment as the geology lab I worked in during my graduate school years, but some of the same feelings of frustration and jubilation certainly did strike a chord with me.
Tomorrow is the end of one conference (the CUR Business Meeting) and the beginning of another (Windows of Opportunity). I think I’ll have to have two separate blog posts for this transition!