Archive for Doing Research

College Dreaming

  What were you dreaming about when you were this age?  I don’t remember if it started this young, but by the time I hit Junior High, I was dreaming of becoming a scientist who wore a white lab coat at work every day.  It finally distilled out into wanting to be an agronomist.  I spent 3 1/2 years at Purdue in their wonderful agronomy program and actually worked in a university research lab for a while before giving it up to become a mom.  Now, 31 years later, will I find my spot in agronomy, or at least in the field of research?  I wonder…….


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Lani, ISU and Roots

I’ve gone to the ISU campus several times since I finished my long term sub job and have some free time.  Yesterday, it really clicked with me, I LOVE Iowa State!  My perfect job?  I would really love to find a job at the university doing research, helping this land grant university fulfill its mission of making the world a better place.

I still remember when Steven first e-mailed me a photo of the campus, back when I was in Indiana, trying to figure out where I might go to grad school and how I was going to make a future for myself.  “This campus is so beautiful!” I thought.  “Perhaps it’s the right place for me.”

Since coming here, I’ve put down roots.  And I’ve made some great friends!  Lani has been here from the very beginning, always there if I needed her, even in the midst of a busy life, working at ISU and have two kids.  During one of my visits back to campus, I wanted to see Lani in her ISU setting.  She works here and does some amazing work with Annie’s Project as part of her job.

Now that I’ve finished my masters and its time to look for a job, I do hope I get to stay in Iowa.  I’d love to stay with ISU and see what these new roots will produce!  Thanks Lani for helping me feel at home here!

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New Places to Work

Steven and I do the bulk of our work free lance style, not at a traditional office.  He gets paid for his work, mine is unfunded graduate work right now.  Still, we make a good have-lap-top-will-travel pair!  I drag him to Burgie’s a lot, because that is my favorite place to work,  GREAT dark roast coffee and awesome music, soft seats and sofas as well as nice tables and chairs.  But occasionally we launch out and look for new places to work.  Last Friday for date-night which is often date-afternoon, we went downtown Des Moines and found the library at the state capitol to be quite nice.  For a while we sat in the eating area, but the echos of 60 school children on a field trip reverberating in the 3-4 story rotunda was a little much.  This library was much nicer, and lo and behold, when the students entered, they actually turned it down to a whisper!

Iowa capital rotunda, beautiful but not very quiet!

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ISU Students Working Towards a Sustainable Future

This last February, Iowa State University had it’s third annual symposium on sustainability. I attended the student brainstorming session and got to see former ISU GSB vice president Chandra Peterson in action.  Her energy and enthusiasm give me hope for the future!  A wonderfully diverse group of students came up with ideas for improving energy usage on campus, educating students and promoting sustainable student lifestyles, reuse of design materials by students, and continuing and improving our food system initiatives of large scale composting and use of locally grown foods.

Chandra Peterson in the middle, leading the student sustainability brainstorming session

ISU students planning a skit to illustrate sustainable practices

Over 60 students attended the sustainability brainstorming session

I never cease to be amazed by the rich diversity found at this university in the middle of the American corn belt.  We have a large population of students from China, India, Pakistan and Latin America.  How do they wind up in Iowa, a state many US east-coasters can’t even accurately locate?! When I asked an administrator about this once, he replied that word of mouth gets many students here.  We have a good university and Ames is a nice sized city of around 50,000.  For ISU, these students will bring many of the ideas and world views that we need to create a sustainable future. It is also impressive that our African-American population seems to be growing at ISU.   One book I am reading now speaks of the overdeveloped countries, like the U.S.  Is it possible to go from overdeveloped, excessive energy use, over-consumption, new technology at any cost, and massive amounts of waste to something more sustainable?  It will be to our advantage to have a diverse group of brainstormers in the conversation.

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Design Aspiration

Design Aspiration

Steven has a new blog over at

It’s been an inspiration to me to get blogging again after being down with a cold for three weeks.  Spring has been flirting with us here in Iowa, I’ve been making some new decorations for my bedroom and trying to do some more painting, anything to get a break from thesis writing!  Writing a thesis can be a creative process, but it also has aspects of feeling like you are in jail, at least for me.  Thinking about design feels like a rest for my brain.  I am not sure I can actually say I design things.  I decorate, I create fabric art… that probably qualifies as design, but I like Steven’s idea that as users of products we can also participate in the design process, and really, we should.  The world would be a better place for it.  So, until I get my camera fired up for some spring blog posts here at Passion for Green, slip over to Design Aspiration and enjoy some thought provoking reading and imagine yourself as a designer for a while!

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Hermit Crab-by

On being a researcher!

You ever feel a little crabby?  Or slightly like you’ve become a hermit crab?  I’m on lock down in my apartment, coding qualitative data for my masters thesis on sustainability activists.  It’s cold outside, so I really shouldn’t mind being inside so much, but of course, when you aren’t supposed to go out, you get a sudden feeling that you’ve GOT to get out!  And no, this picture is not Photoshopped!  That’s really my face sticking out through a photo op at  the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores!  I was much less crabby that day!

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