Carman Neustaedter is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada and is also Director of the Connections Lab (cLab) research group. He talks about the importance for him of taking time to reconnect with his identity and values, and building in regular time for reflection, both on the bigger issues of where he is going and also on day to day work like writing challenges. He also discusses feeling overwhelmed and deciding to track his work time over a whole year, which led to surprising findings about how he actually spent his time and how he worked fewer hours than he thought he did. He also touches on issues around handling reviewer critique, managing his email inbox and how he structures time and prioritises family. A thread through a couple of stories is also the importance of being able to take on the perspective of others, whether these are the critical reviewers or colleagues.
“It’s really hard to figure out who you are because you’re often so focused…, you don’t stop to step back and say who am I and what is my path. But it’s so valuable to do.”
“It’s easy to slip into the habit of doing work at all sorts of hours. … It’s about choice and recognizing ahead of time what my priority is and making sure that priority is my family in the evening and at the weekend.”
“When I’m working, I’m really on and working really hard but then I purposely stop and say you know what it’s family time now, they deserve my time.”
“It’s really valuable for all walks of life just to empathise and understand others.”
Marcus Foth is an i/Director of the QUT Design Lab, founder and former director of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, and Professor in Interactive & Visual Design, School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology. Marcus talks about being on sabbatical, creating a research niche at the intersection of disciplines and publishing in diverse venues. He also shares his experiences of setting up a new lab and of chairing conferences.
“We need to first focus on the passion and zest of our researchers – and it’s not these bean counting KPIs, it’s the beans themselves”
Gloria Mark is a Professor in the Department of Informatics at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at University of California Irvine. Gloria talks about her experiences as chair of a major conference, not just the work but also the rewards. She talks about how she moved from a Fine Arts background, painting murals on buildings, to a PhD in cognitive science and now studying the relationship between media use, attention and stress, but still being able to be creative in work. She also reflects honestly on her own struggles to manage her screen time and stress but above all she reminds us of the importance of fun and fulfilment in work.
“There are opportunities all around us and very often we are blind to them. … You have to be willing to give up a particular path that you might think you are on.”
“Email is a symbol of work… a reminder there is work there”
“You can practice creativity in so many ways, in conversations, in writing, in just thinking of ideas.”
“It’s important to keep some kind of fun in what you do because otherwise it’s not
Kylie Ball is a Professor in the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Faculty of Health at Deakin University in Australia. She is also Head of early- and mid-career researcher (EMCR) development and publishes a very impactful blog targeted to EMCRs called The Happy Academic. We have a wide-ranging discussion about the EMCR support initiatives she has put in place, including workshops, mentoring programs and virtual resources, as well as the blog which she talks about as a form of virtual mentorship that can have a wider reach. We explore her own strategies for physical and mental wellbeing and how to form good habits. Themes throughout are around how much there is that we can actually take control of and make choices about, and we get a good sense of how to create a kinder and more supportive culture within our faculties.
“Leadership can happen at every level. …Every researcher is leading something.”
“We forget that we’re in a career where there is so much choice and flexibility. Seeing busyness as within our choice and there are things we can do about that really helps to give that sense of control.”
“I’m a big advocate that we can all find opportunities to be kind and it’s never a wasted act.”
Scott Robertson comes from a psychology and cognitive science background and is now a Professor in the Information and Computer Sciences Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Scott shares the experiences of being rejected for tenure twice and how he dealt with that. His story is one of perseverance and courage, doing what you care about, and the importance of mentors and being part of a community. He is now in a tenured position and enjoying the freedom to follow his mission around civic engagement and to get back to acting.
UPDATE: Scott has just been made Chair of his department! So not getting tenure is definitely not the end of a story!
“You have to do what you care about”
“So [failure/rejection] is survivable, not just survivable but also then you can go on to the next thing and make the best of whatever situation you are in.”
“[Don’t] define yourself by your position or your affiliation [but] by your mission in life.”