Ph.D. Adventures!

Enjoying Academic Life (Ph.D. Year 2, Spring Update 5)


Half way through the semester and, to date, this has been my most enjoyable academic semester ever! I love being Professor Blackburn and have been getting plenty of positive feedback from my class. I am really enjoying my research (both Project CODE and my SDG theory). I finished sub-reviewing for FDG 2021 and learned a bunch. So glad I volunteered (though two weeks ago I felt a little overwhelmed!). As the adage goes: all’s well that ends well. 

Weekly Update Breakdown

Accomplishments Since My Last Update

  • Writing (SDG theory)
    • Went over notes from Dr. Rogelio last night. Have been holding off on major changes until I received the notes. 
    • We discussed yet another change to the paper, but this time it is a reframing rather than a pivot altogether.
  • Service to Profession
    • Completed my first official paper reviews as a sub-reviewer under Dr. Cardona-Rivera for FDG 2021. Added to CV.
  • Research (Project CODE Switch)
    • Have led seven meetings now, two as design lead with Rogelio present. 
      • In the game design meetings with Rogelio present, we used the SDG theory I’m writing to guide the design of our game. Out of that Rogelio pitched his first legit game pitch. (Which he was super stoked about and told me in a later meeting that it validated the work we have been doing).
        • Our game is an awareness learning game about ethics
        • It’s Boss Monster meets Dating Sim
          • Incidentally, I am really excited to play our game. It just sounds fun!
      • The others were game design/code design/team meetings without Rogelio present. 
    • Completed IRB revisions. Back in Rogelio’s court.
    • Code Design/Dev Doc:
      • Designed an MVC model for our vertical slice prototype with Sarah (team’s engineer)
      • Split up tasks with Sarah based on the MVC model we created.
      • Got GameMaker installed and git set up locally.
      • Instituted a simpler version of “GitFlow” for our branching strategy.
  • Teaching
    • Updated my CV with “Instructor of Record” for “The Psychology of Games.”
    • I learned so much about the student code. Read through it for the first time in my life and for the first time, truly appreciated it. 
    • In one week got to talk with students about infractions with student code, and, following the advice of my advisor Dr. Rogelio E. Cardona-Rivera, managed to resolve all issues informally (which the University of Utah highly encourages).
      • For the first issue, Dr. Cardona-Rivera stood up for me. It was so nice to have someone have my back like that! It was beautiful! (Big grin!). I also haven’t had a problem with the student since, though I won’t refer to me by any name now. It’s just “Hi,” or “Hello.” Aww, academic life.
      • For the other issue, I updated my syllabus to introduce a “regrets clause” and this was key to the informal resolution! At the end of the discussion with my students, they were thanking me. (Thanks again Dr. Cardona-Rivera for all the advice on resolving these issues!)
    • Managed to not only stay on top of my quiz creation but got a week ahead.
    • 45% of my students currently have an A. Now they’re glad I don’t grade on a curve. 😛
  • Self-care dailies
    • Been sticking to these and it has really helped me stay centered and enjoy my life more. Otherwise, I think I would allow the above writing, research, teaching, to just consume my life, because I enjoy them, but there are other things I enjoy too, and I would burn out if I didn’t take the time to take care of myself.
  • Executive
    • Started going through the NCFDD’s core curriculum. I went through the semester plan webinar for 2021 yesterday and I really liked the simplified flow for the strategic semester planning which they presented.
    • Sunday meetings have saved my keister! The one week I didn’t do since reintroducing it to my life was a very, very bad week!

Next Week’s Tasks

  • Writing (SDG Theory)
    • Finish updating based on Rogelio’s notes
    • Re-frame paper based on design rationale
  • Research (Project CODE)
    • Help finish the vertical slice
      • Basic Sim model
      • Hero Pool
  • Teaching
    • Create quizzes 9 & 10

Speed Bumps & Obstacles

  • Executive
    • Balancing all of my various tasks and responsibilities with some me-time and fun!
  • Research
    • Still don’t have copies of Boss Monster.
    • IRB has not been resubmitted. In Dr. Cardona-Rivera’s court (or inbox) right now.
    • Have to learn a new game engine & scripting language. Should be used to it by now. But I’m a little wary of jumping among all the different game engines all the time. I wish I could just stick to one and get really, really good at it instead of always jumping on different bandwagons. I’m not saying we made a bad choice, but I would rather stick with the one I know the best and improved my skills in it.

Personal Note

We finally (after six months) got our coach! We also got me a new desk and chair (ones I actually wanted, and love!), and dining room chairs and a bench. Our house is really starting to feel like home. And yes, that pillow is “family” backwards. My mom bought it when we were out shopping a few months before she died. She thought it was hilarious!

Lady dog likes to be in the room with me during my class and meetings, and frequently sleeps… and sometimes snores.

The weather was nice enough last weekend that we went on a five-mile bike ride as a family (including my brother who lives with us) and Lady loved the first two sprints around the block (but then we left her at home).

We also spent the majority of Sunday at my dad’s and Momma D’s to help them put up a goat fence so that Lady can’t escape and we can let her enjoy the outdoors. We played soccer, ate pizza, and watched Aladdin.


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