Season 6: Research Skills

Season 6, hosted by PhD students Heather Mooney (Sociology) and Matthew Boyd (Computer Engineering), is the second season in a series of seven seasons focused on the PhD Core Capacities. In conversations with faculty, students, and professionals in the field, Matt and Heather talk about the core skill of research – addressing the fundamentals of the research process, publishing, ethics, reaching a broader audience with your research, and more. 


Season 6 Introduction: Episode 1

In this episode, we meet our new hosts for Season 6 of VitaminPhD, Heather Mooney from the Department of Sociology and Matthew Boyd, . Matt and Heather share what excites them about digging into the skill of research, and they give us a preview of many of the season’s conversations including the research process, mentoring, and more. 

Heather received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies from Clark University in 2011. Following, she served as the Teen Services Coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts (now Pathways for Change), working as violence prevention educator as well as counselor and advocate for child and teenaged survivors of sexual violence. In 2013, she began a dual Master’s degree program at Simmons University, and received a Master of Arts in Gender and Cultural Studies and a Master of Science in Education in 2015.  In 2016, she began her PhD in Sociology at Boston University, given its disciplinary emphasis on empirical research, rigorous methods, and policy-oriented research. Even though research is her primary focus at this time, she still finds her greatest joys and motivations in teaching and working with undergraduates.  She is also involved in several department level committees aimed at improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and overall experience in higher education for both undergraduate and graduate students. She grew up in Massachusetts with her mother, father, and sister, and many pets. She currently lives in Brighton with her husband and their two cats, Bella and Salem.

Matt Boyd is a first year PhD student in Computer Engineering in the H2XLab of Prof. Eshed Ohn-Bar. His research interests center on making off-the-shelf robots function as intelligent, autonomous collaborators with people in fields such as agriculture, food service, logistics, and manufacturing, as well as helping people with disabilities live more independent lives. He made the switch to engineering after a career in corporate I.T. with the help of BU’s LEAP program. When he’s not in the lab, Matt can be found roaming Jamaica Plain with his dog, Pete, in search of vegan food and local cider.

 


Episode 2: Navigating What Research Is

In this episode of the Vitamin PhD podcast, co-hosts Matthew Boyd and Heather Mooney introduce themselves and the scope of the season before tackling the question, “what is research?” with Dr. Greg Wright, UC Merced Associate Professor and Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Global Economy and Development.

Our Graduate Student panel, Amanda Ruiz, Brown University, Dana Ahern, UCSB, Kiara Lee, Brown University, and Kristin Tzok, Boston University, tell us what research means to them and answering our season-long challenge question, “in three to five words, finish this sentence: research is….”


Episode 3: Navigating Research Process and Design

In this episode, Heather and Matt discuss the research process and how to design research questions. They are joined by guest Michael Gennert, robotics engineering professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and member of the Education and Workforce Advisory Committee at the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute. . Given his work with the ARM Institute, they also ask Prof. Gennert how to effectively collaborate with industry as an academic.

Our Graduate Student panel, Amanda Ruiz from Brown University, Dana Ahern from University of California Santa Barbara, Kiara Lee from Brown University, and Kristin Tzok from Boston University, share something that they believed going into graduate school.that they now feel differently about.


Episode 4: Roundtable on Publishing and Research Dissemination

In this episode of Vitamin PhD, Matt and Heather discuss many aspects of publishing and research dissemination, from the overall process to the challenges and rewards. This episode compiles insights and wisdom gleaned from nine different guests who will be featured in episodes throughout the season, including professors, working professionals, and graduate students across academic disciplines. They discuss why PhD students should publish, how to choose a publication venue, challenges you may face along the way, and get some great tips and tricks.  


Episode 5: Navigating Mentoring


In this episode, Matt and Heather are joined by Dr. Yasmine Doleyres, Senior Engineer at BD, and Dr. Brad Johnson, psychologist and researcher on effective mentoring relationships to explore an important but under-discussed area of graduate training: mentorship.  They discuss mentoring, and what mentor/mentee relationships can (and should) look like, what to expect in your mentoring relationships, and how to be an excellent mentee and mentor.

This episode features our Graduate Student panel, Amanda Ruiz from Brown University, Dana Ahern from University of California Santa Barbara, Kiara Lee from Brown University, and Kristin Tzok from Boston University, reflecting on mentorship experiences and best practices.


Episode 6: Navigating Interdisciplinary Research

In this episode of Vitamin PhD, Heather and Matt talk about the rewards, challenges, and possibilities of interdisciplinary research, as well as how to cultivate successful interdisciplinary collaboration and research agendas. They are joined by Dr. Eden Medina, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at MIT.

This episode features our Graduate Student panel, Amanda Ruiz from Brown University, Dana Ahern from University of California Santa Barbara, Kiara Lee from Brown University, and Kristin Tzok from Boston University, discussing transdisciplinary research.

Dr. Medina’s new book: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/cybernetic-revolutionaries


Episode 7: Navigating Broader Audiences

Part A: Community Relationships

In the first part of this two-part episode, Matt and Heather discuss disseminating research findings beyond the “ivory tower” and explore how to reach a broader audience, especially as academics are now expected to be able to translate their findings to make their work meaningful to colleagues across disciplines and to the general public.  Heather and Matt are joined by Dr. Vincent Smith, MD, MPH, the Division Chief of Newborn Medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University Medical School, to discuss communicating and collaborating with diverse populations within and outside of academia.

This episode features our Graduate Student panel, Dana Ahern from University of California Santa Barbara, Kiara Lee from Brown University, and Kristin Tzok from Boston University, discussing their elevator pitches when speaking to a variety of different audiences.


Episode 8: Navigating Broader Audiences

Part B: Academics and the Media

In the second part of this two-part episode, Matt and Heather discuss disseminating research findings beyond the “ivory tower” and explore how to reach a broader audience, especially as academics are now expected to be able to translate their findings to make their work meaningful to colleagues across disciplines and to the general public. Heather and Matt are joined by Kalpana Jain, Senior Religion and Ethics Editor at The Conversation, learning from her experiences as a researcher, journalist, and editor for an academically-focused and public-facing publication.