It’s no stretch to say that 2020 was a hard year for almost everyone. It was marked by a global pandemic, social upheaval, and loss.
The word ‘unprecedented’ lost all meaning around March, and we navigated uncharted waters for the remainder of the year.
2020 was rough, but now that it’s over, it’s time to look back at what we learned.
What do we want to carry forward, and what aspects are we happy to leave behind?
Like the rest of the world, graduate students, postdocs and other academics couldn’t escape the 2020 maelstrom. In the early months of the pandemic, labs closed and years-long experiments were discarded.
Then, just as suddenly, labs reopened, but under tight restrictions and the ever-looming threat of illness from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in the US, outrage over the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others forced a reckoning about how our society treats people of color – not just in policing, but in every aspect of our lives.
These themes influenced our conversations here on Hello PhD.
We interviewed students and faculty whose research was put on hold for the pandemic. And we spoke with thought-leaders who helped us envision a more inclusive academia.
This week on the show, we look back on our favorite conversations of 2020, and think more about the lessons we want to carry into 2021. We hope you’ll join us!
Here’s a breakdown of our favorite episodes by topic:
Over the past few months, our homes have become workplaces, schools, and the backdrop for the majority of our lives. In this episode, our storytellers consider how to adjust to being stuck at home.
Our first story is from psychologist (and Story Collider board member!) Ali Mattu. Cooped up with his young outdoor-kid daughter, indoor-kid Ali decides they should venture out into the wild together. Find transcripts and photos from all of our stories on our website.
After Ali’s story, our host speaks with Yi-Ling Liu, a journalist based in China, about how families in China have changed post-COVID-19.
Susan Roll and Jennifer Wilking share their experience teaching a multidisipilnary course together on episode 341 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.
Quotes from the episode
It was really fascinating to see how students across these three disciplines had different orientations from day one to this issue of homelessness.
One of the real benefits to interdisciplinary teaching is the exposure to different perspectives.
Students have such a deeper understanding when they’re actually doing the research rather than just hearing about research methods.
Once they have an experience and actually talk to a person who is experiencing homelessness, all of those preconceptions start to drop away; and that’s the beauty of doing research too.
In episode 90, Eric Tourigny from Newcastle University’s School of History, Classics and Archaeology discusses his research into historic pet cemeteries and how they reveal our evolving feelings toward these animals, from beloved pets to valued family members with whom we may hope to reunify in an afterlife.
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Parsing Science: The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves., which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
Many postdoctoral researchers can trace their career journey back to childhood experiences. In Pearl Ryder’s case it was spending lots of time outdoors in the rural area where she grew up, combined with the experience of having a sibling who experienced poor health.
Ryder, a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts, and founder of the Future PI Slack group, says: “It made me realize how important health is, and that there’s so little that we understand about the world.”
But is science, like some other professions a calling? Yes, says Christopher Hayter, who specializes in entrepreneurship, technology policy, higher education and science at Arizona State University in Phoenix. “There are professions that are a little bit different from your day-to-day job, something people gravitate towards, something bigger than themselves,” he says.
“It is often referred to as a calling. I think we could say that about a lot of scientists. It’s how they define themselves: ‘I’m a scientist.’ ‘I’m going to cure cancer.’ ‘I’m going to discover the next planet.’ When students transition from doctoral students to postdoc they are really doubling down on that identity.”
Michael Moore, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, adds: “Being a scientist is overcoming a series of hurdles, and you need to see yourself as a scientist to get that internal motivation to keep going. You have to publish so much, get so many grants, teach so many courses. Having that identity and that motivation is really key to moving forward.”
Gould’s guests discuss how to maintain that motivation despite the setbacks, and how a scientist’s professional identity and career path is underpinned by the networks, mentors and transferable skills acquired during a postdoc.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by award-winning investigative journalist Brian Deer to talk about his new book, “The Doctor Who Fooled the World: Science, Deception, and the War on Vaccines.” They discuss the incredible story of how Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent research sparked an anti-vax movement that swept the globe.
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Cara Santa Maria, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.