Highlights of 2018

Melbourne Central aerial | Photo by Tseen Khoo
Melbourne Central aerial | Photo by Tseen Khoo

This is post is all about using the benefit of hindsight to contemplate 2018.

Life feels like it moves faster these days and, aside from big milestones such as having a child or starting a new job, much of it is a flurry of half-rememberedness. There are the moments captured in photographs that stick in my mind, but not much else. I sometimes get sad about this.

I recognise that this half-rememberedness and the constancy of it is a privilege in some ways as I have the luxury of steady jobs these past 7.5 years that I can rely on (knock on wood).

The work-face highlights I list in this post aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ but the most memorable and stretchy moments of last year. It was a good consolidating year after a fairly depleting and unhealthy 2017.

So, 2018 was a year in which:

I stepped back from the AASRN, a research network I’d helped found and ran for about 18 years. That’s a big chunk of my career life right there. I was looking forward to it. I envisaged a lot of freed up time. Overall, it has been easier than I thought it would be and a decided relief after almost two decades of assumed responsibility. But the magical extra time has not appeared…

I submitted my first academic promotion application. Yes, ever. I’ve been in academic roles across my career (since getting my PhD) for about a dozen years but I’ve never once applied for promotion. The outcome is still unknown but, whatever it is, I found the process to be a welcome chance to take stock of what my career actually means to me and having a better idea of what it looks like from the outside. The latter element led me to apply to be part of a new university leadership program. I found out in late 2018 that I’m in.

I owned my new area of research properly. Those of you who have known me through the years will know that I have been flolloping around in a disciplinary and topic transition for a while, from a well-established profile in Asian Australian Studies to…I wasn’t sure what.

Now, since 2014 and among other things, I’ve published three papers that canvas the areas of academic identities and critical university studies. My continuing work with Research Whisperer (RW) is also very much a part of this work. I feel I’ve put down a solid footing or two.

For those who are interested, here are the three I’m talking about:

I am working with those I admire and like. This is something I’ve always tended towards but now it’s an embedded approach. Examples of this include:

  • Being part of Western Australia’s ECR Careers Day for HaSS researchers (continuing RW’s relationship with CHASS [thanks for all the incredibly hard work, Divya Das!], and supported by Curtin University and Tim Pitman who suggested it in the first place).
  • Hatching EspressoRW with our buddy Jen Martin (U of Melbourne). The inaugural event came about because we all wanted to work together on something, support emerging researchers in the area of research communication, and create something with cross-institutional momentum.
  • Sharing the stage with Pat ‘Patter’ Thomson (U of Nottingham) at the State Library of Victoria. This was a wonderful opportunity to talk digital communities, the politics of online presence, and the doing of it all. It was all thanks to Jo Lampert, who is a dedicated supporter and all-round champion.
  • Being very happy to continue writing for Funding Insight as a quarterly columnist because Phil Ward (of Research Fundermentals fame) is the editor.
  • Starting a #ShutUpAndWiki group with fab colleagues.

So, that was my truncated version of 2018. The year ended on a fitting note for me with my second last day of work featuring a lovely year’s end lunch with work unit colleagues, and my last day of work surrounded by RW allies and long-time #shutupandwrite buddies. My last work lunch that day was with two great colleagues – one from Deakin and the other Monash – with whom I hope to co-author and hatch plans in the near future.

As for 2019: One of the things I’ve already done is set up a professional Facebook Page. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. More on the whys and wherefores of this in the next post!

2 comments

  1. Sounds like an eventful year for you, Tseen. Lovely to hear that stepping back from something made *some* room for stepping into something else that you like. Upwards and onwards. Also sounds like you’ve made many new connections while maintaining the ones you have. It’s amazing how being with others can inspire and encourage us so much. All the best for the year ahead 🙂

    • Thanks, Mabel! 2018 was a good year, though I was feeling fairly flat by the end of it – I think end-of-year rejuvenation is a must these days with all the juggling that goes on.

      Most of my inspiration and motivation comes from others – in the best possible ways. It has taken me a while to come around to this and seek these out regularly. HNY to you, too!

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