presenting our work

Linden Higgins linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Feb 22 10:20:54 EST 1996

>On 19 Feb 1996 07:10:04 -0800, linden at (Linden Higgins) wrote:
>>I did not get the job.  I was told that although seriously considered,
>>there was doubt about whether I knew the "bigger context" of my research,
>>or where my next projects would take it.  Now, I know perfectly well where
>>my research is going, and its importance.  The woman who told me this also
>>confided that she'd never met a male candidate who had problems making sure
>>everyone knew exactly what his plans were and why they were important....

A couple of people have responded, with good general comments about
designing a seminar and the statement of research interests.  However, from
what I gathered from my contact at the above university, the problem was
not in the seminar (and I have redone the seminar and it is much stronger
in the introduction & much more to-the-point in the conclusions). One
problem with the seminar as it was given is that I've been "out and about"
(aka treading water) for so long that I have definite ideas for the next
several projects, and also for what I'd like graduate students to do -
therefore, my statment of future research (and the slide) were too long and
seen as diluted.  I now present only 2 main projects....

The problem during the interview was more in the one-on-one interactions.
I've decided that in the future, I should let my enthusiasm for _my_
research be more obvious (that is, if I get another interview!).  I like
the idea of offering to do two seminars.  Yes, exhausting, but if the
second can be informal, with overheads instead of slides for example, and a
bit shorter, then I think it could be very benificial.

>Beth Shuster
>eoshuster at
"inserted some basic introductory material to
get people oriented and made absolutely sure that I gave a VERY general
overview of the context of my research.  This was at a level that I had
previously considered "too basic" ...snip... and I also had to try to avoid
insulting those closer to my area.  I also added some very simple-minded
slides to explain techniques essential to understanding my results.  At the
end, after I gave an overview of the "future prospects" of the work, I made
sure to bring the talk full circle and remind them of how all of this
contributed (and would continue to contribute) to the big (basic) picture
that I'd presented at the beginning."

Another useful thing is to make clear early int he seminar where the talk
is going, and keep people oriented throughout the talk - a series of
outline slides, highlighting each point as you come to it, is a common
tool.  As one prof. said early in my graduate career, tell them what you
will tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.  And watch
out for overuse of all the pretty colors on the computer generated slides!


Linden Higgins, Ph.D.
Dept. of Zoology,
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  78712
linden at

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