08. Committees Pt 3: The Director Will See You Now

On Monday I was crying over my situation in the department.

On Tuesday the gears were put into motion to get me into a new lab.

On Friday I was out of my old lab, and the beginnings of a new committee was forming.

This committee's beginnings were Drs. Duff and Svenson, and I already had a third member of the team. The jewel of the department, our program director, Hazel Barton. Hazel was appointed to the position of Program Director of the IB program in the Fall of 2016, taking the place historically filled by the current chair of the department, and as a result, had been left essentially vacant as far as we as students were concerned. Within a month she'd met with most of the later year students, including myself, and started throwing herself at every fire in sight.

So, to have her on my committee was a win. Dr. Barton's lab studies geomicrobiology, focusing on microbial speleogenesis and the causative agents of white nose syndrome in bats. She has a rich background in evolutionary biology, and a number of accolades and positions to numerous for me to count. She's got a good head on her shoulders, a real empathy for students, and an understanding of how to get results. She's a triple threat. As someone with some self-confidence issues (rapidly improving in the past months in my new lab setting), it's beyond useful to have someone who not only gives me positive feedback, but constant pressure to get things done (the typing pantomime she performs in combination with the one-word question "writing?" is masterful). So while her research background features overlaps with both Gavin and Duff, her functional role as a major stick and carrot on my committee is beyond useful.

Ideally, any given program and/or department should have someone appointed to a position in which they supervise the progress of the students, and mediate issues as they come up. Advocacy is the watchword, and by that I mean that if a student is having difficulties, or an advisor is having difficulties, they should both feel that there is a means of recourse, and that means is either directly or indirectly the program's director. Due to administrative and bureaucratic reasons the IB program lacked such clear structure, and as such I suffered. The key to those sorts of situations is to find someone who can be and advocate for you, or help you be an advocate for yourself. If there is no one who is on your side, or even if it just feels that way, then something has to change, or else things won't improve. I had to learn after years of misery that you have to be able to communicate, to talk, and that even when you can do that, sometimes it takes more. 

That's why I'm thankful I've got a dedicated advocate in Hazel, and that I have her on my committee.

09. What am I?

09. What am I?

07. Committees Pt 2: The Best Team for the Job