Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Glaze for the “How I Work” series. Dr. Glaze is beginning her tenth year of teaching and has taught both physical and biological science at levels from secondary through graduate school. Her research centers on the intersections of science and society, specifically the acceptance and rejection of evolution in the Southeastern United States and the broader impact of the conflict between religion and evolution on science literacy and the general public. She has been featured on the NPR series Science Friday with Ira Flatow as well as social media outlets such as ErrantScience.com and RealScientists.org as a guest for Ada Lovelace Day and guest curator for @RealScientists on Twitter. Her research has been published in Science Education, Science & Children, and the International Journal of Science and Math Education, and she is currently co-editor of a volume on evolution research and teaching in and around the Southeastern United States. She presently resides in Alabama with her husband, Greg, the younger two of their three children, Jaymon and Maddox (the eldest, Stephanie, is a doctoral student at University of Kansas), two beagles, a cat, a hedgehog, one carnivorous frog, and whatever other manner of flora and fauna her boys happen to drag in on any given day.
Current Job: Researcher/Science Teacher
Current Location: Alabama USA
Current mobile device: LG Android
Current computer: Macbook Pro & Dell Laptop
Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I research the teaching and learning of evolution in the United States, especially the worldview and lived experiences behind acceptance and rejection of evolution in the Southeastern United States. A lot of my time is spent talking to people, reviewing surveys about view on evolution, and crunching numbers to explore variation in acceptance. I am presently graduate faculty at Texas A & M University Commerce, but also work with the Jacksonville Middle Preparatory Academy in Jacksonville AL.
What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I need fast computers and A LOT of storage for what I do, especially my present project which involves data from the national level. I use statistical analysis tools like SPSS, AtlasTI, and survey software Qualtrics on a regular basis.
Much of what I do involves talking to various groups of people about their experiences with teaching and learning of controversial topics so there are also elements of audio/video and transcription that come into play. I am doing a lot of stats right now, so combinations of SPSS are great. I do a lot of my data analysis on my PC but use mac products in the field because they communicate more seamlessly.
What does your workspace setup look like?
All of the above really. I have office space, teaching space, and space at home. My official space is downstairs in my basement where I have a full office set up that includes a database and hardcopy matrix of all the research I have pooled in the last few years regarding evolution education. It has two desks, one long table to spread things out, file cabinets and many stacks of articles that are organized by topic.
I am a visual person so I also have a lot of things pinned to my walls at any given time or set up in timeline/storyboard form in post-it notes. These organizers help me line up my thoughts and are great when I start writing. I spend most of my time in that office when I am reading articles and sorting ideas but I do a lot of my work in informal places, like my living room, surrounded by my family. I seem to work best when things are going on around me, it allows me to hone in on what I am doing and let other things fall into the background. I do most of my actual writing and editing in loud places swarming with my boys.
What is your best advice for productive academic work?
Time management skills take effort but are necessary, both on a daily basis and on a year to year basis. You have to set solid short and long term goals and carve out work time and personal time to make them happen.
Personal time can be more important than work time. If you are not taking care of yourself physically and mentally, your work is going to suffer.
One thing that saved my life is having an actual physical, written-out, five year plan. It is like a month-to-month calendar to carve up the year and it should have everything on it from submission deadlines for grants/conferences/writing to carved out time for specific articles, grants, and other preparations. Doing this keeps you productive because you have a sort of checklist for what to do when and it forces you to manage your time. Everyone I talk to about this says that having a plan like that to look at has helped them get more work done and get more funding because they are staying on top of things instead of doing a hodge-podge that contributes to nothing.
How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I use my five year plan, a month to month calendar, and a day to day calendar to keep up with everything I have to do. I keep a lot of lists, both hard copy and digital, to manage my day to day and to plan for what I need to get done. This makes sure that in all the hustle and bustle of the day that nothing gets overlooked.
What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?
I pull articles in my areas of research interest several times a year to add them to my growing matrix and save myself the trouble of having to read a massive stack of articles all at once when I am writing, so I always have some articles to check out.
I do also like to read for fun, so I have to carve that time out, usually at night, to help me power down for the day. I read a wide variety of things, many with scientific background to them, like James Rollins Sigma books, Jefferson Bass “Body farm” novels, and Kathy Reichs’ “Temperance Brennan” books (aka Bones). I have found that when I am working on a particularly difficult problem or with a large dataset that requires extra time and stress, that I love science fiction and supernatural books because they are such a break from what I am doing daily… my guilty pleasures would be things like Sookie Stackhouse, Dark Hunters, Supernatural, that kind of thing.
Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I am very much an extrovert which makes it easy for me to meet and talk to new people. I am so much an extrovert that I have actually had to work on “toning it down” so that I don’t totally overwhelm some people. This is great because I enjoy being around a wide variety of people and watching them just do what they do. Where I am, in the South, working on exploring backgrounds and positions on controversial topics, this helps me by allowing me to take positive risks and reach out to people without being afraid of their response (which isn’t always a good one).
What’s your sleep routine like?
I run non-stop from 5:00am until about 9:30pm and then sleep like a rock in between. I have trained myself to do so by making sure that I mentally power down in the evenings and set aside my work and all other distractions early enough that I can rest.
What’s your work routine like?
I am pretty OCD about my work schedule, but not to the point that having to adjust throws me for a loop. I try to manage my time well and break up what I am doing throughout the day. I spend a lot of my time with students, whether in class or talking about various projects, and a good deal of my time is also spent on data collection of some variety or another. I don’t have a checklist, but it seems that I tend to do many of the same things each day in cycles between teaching, writing, reading, logistics, and data.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
That’s a hard one because it seems like in the South we are purveyors of great sayings to cover pretty much everything. The one that has been sticking with me lately is “Wear beige and stay in your own lane”…which is something a good friend told me about working in departments with a lot of people. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just blend in and do your thing, at least until the time is right to stand out. I think a lot of people are so focused on themselves that they fail to stop and listen, and even learn, from all the people and experiences around them. It is one thing to be competitive, which I am by nature, but another thing to let that overrule the fact that we all have so much we don’t know.