Tag: science writing

How I Write: Thomas Geoghegan — Graduate Dean

Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers. The series will be featured every other Wednesday.

This week the “How I Write”geoghegan headshot series features Thomas Geoghegan, the current Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the School of Medicine, as well as a faculty member in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He recived his BS degree in Biology from the University of Massachusetts/Boston, and PhD in Biological Chemistry from the M.S. Hershey Medical School associated with Penn State.  Thomas Geoghegan  joined the faculty at UofL in the Department of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine in 1979.

How I Write: Thomas Geoghegan

Location: UofL School of Medicine

Current project: Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Currently reading:  David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

  1.  What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?

    I began my career as a bench scientist (molecular biologist) writing papers and grant applications (not always successfully I might add).  I also teach and of course needed to write lecture notes, study guides and test questions (again not always successfully).  I no longer write scientific grants and manuscripts. I do however continue to teach and write reports of activities of our office.  For a short time I also wrote a blog on graduate education (once again not always successfully).

  2. When/where/how do you write?

    I mostly write in my small, cramped, and overly cluttered office. geoghegan office

  3. What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?

    For the most part a pad and paper, and computer.

  4. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?

    Tip for getting started – get started; no really get started.  People write differently but everyone has to get started.  I’m big on getting something down on paper and editing the hell out of it.  In fact I’ll spend 5-10 times more time editing than writing.

    My best tip is to post a bullet list with principles of writing right in front of you.  When you’re stuck (and everyone gets stuck) it refreshes your memory and get’s you started again.

    One caveat; my son is a journalist/writer.  He sits down to write and most of the time it comes out perfect, with few revisions.  Proving that much to my dismay as a molecular biologist , it’s not all genetics (because I can never do that).

  5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

    Most of my serious writing is (or was) scientific.  And the best advice I got was to “keep it simple stupid”.  The more you try and elaborate, the more complex and less understandable your arguments are.

How I Write: Jeffery L. Hieb — Engineering Professor

Our “How I Write” series asks writers from the University of Louisville community and beyond to respond to five questions that provide insight into their writing processes and offer advice to other writers. Through this series, we promote the idea that learning to write is an ongoing, life-long process and that all writers, from first-year students to career professionals, benefit from discussing and collaborating on their work with thoughtful and respectful readers. The series will be featured every other Wednesday.

hiebOur featured writer this week is Professor Jeffery L. Hieb. Dr. Hieb teaches in the Engineering Fundamentals and Computer Engineering and Computer Science departments in the J. B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville. Although he has a range of research interests, one area of specialty for Dr. Hieb is information assurance and security.

How I Write: Jeffery L. Hieb

Location: In my office or my office at home

Current project: A technical report on the availability and effectiveness of currently available industrial control system cyber-security technology for the Dams Sector.

Currently reading: What the Best College Professors Do, Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  1. What type(s) of writing do you regularly engage in?

    a. Conference and journal papers
    b. Technical reports
    c. Letters of recommendation
    d. Grant and research proposals

  2. When/where/how do you write?

    a. In my office or in my office at home.
    b. Almost any chance I get

  3. What are your writing necessities—tools, accessories, music, spaces?

    a. I write on my notebook computer, and since I have it with me most of the time I can write almost anywhere.  I usually like to have a cup of coffee next to me when I write.

  4. What is your best tip for getting started and/or for revision?

    a. When I have trouble getting started I like to stand up and talk about the subject matter to an imaginary audience.  Usually after 10 to 15 minutes I want to start writing down something I have said.

  5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

    a. The best advice I ever received was from Dr. David Shaner, my philosophy professor when I was an undergraduate.  He once told me: “Just throw up on the page, you can clean it up later”.  I have always found that helpful when starting to write something, it takes away the pressure of getting it right at the beginning, and acknowledges that rewriting/revising is part of the writing process, not what you do to fix or correct something you got wrong initially.

A Two-Way Street: Learning from Clients in the Writing Center

Scott Lasley, Consultant

With my first semester at the writing center complete, I call up the images of all the students I’ve worked with and surprisingly, find more faces of science and business students than English major students.  In the few months of my infancy as a writing consultant, it was especially daunting to work almost exclusively with students in fields of engineering, business, and chemistry because what could this lowly English student help with outside of mundane grammatical and surface-level concerns?  This sentiment was a mere manifestation of my “newness” anxiety that was barely a whisper by the end of the first month.  I became entranced with what work the non-English major students brought in to the writing center.  I found myself learning ideas and concepts that I never dreamed would cross my path from deformable models regarding imaging software to simpler things like how to write business letters and memos.  It was as if I had become the student, my eyes wide as I listened to the teacher inform me of some new piece of knowledge. 

I remember reading a student assignment about some new findings regarding a hominid species that supported the possibility of co-evolution in Southeast Asia.  Staring down at the pages of pictures and blocks of text on this new hominid, I found myself getting lost in the circled and highlighted prints and lines, entranced by the unexpected nature of this newly found knowledge.  What if it were true?  What if this changed our very understanding of world?  Dramatic, I know, but being presented with something I had never considered or even thought of made such findings like a stop sign of sorts in that I must wait and take notice of what lies in front of me.  Even though I knew next to nothing about evolutionary studies, I could not help but absorb all that could from what I saw, like a young boy does when listening to his father.  I craved to know more and found myself taking mental notes of names like homo floresiensis and co-evolution as I worked through the session.  As I sat down in front of my computer after the session, I quickly brought up Google, typing my mental notes into the slender search bar, excited less by what I may or may not find and more by the shear possibilities of what might be found.

This experience, like many others so far while working at the writing center, has demonstrated the importance ofScott consultants not only tutoring and teaching students in order to help them become better writers, but learning from them as well.  That’s not to say that we have to play the role of the engaged student or that we will always enjoy and want to know about what our clients are working on.  Desire and curiosity have their limits.  However, by being intellectually curious of the world outside the English department, we not only see what other writers are doing, but we also open our minds and by extension, our writing, to new areas of intellectual exploration.