Update: 2023-08-25

This first update to my tenure-track-tracker includes the first week of the semester and the week prior.

Friday, August 25, 2023

An unfamiliar and unique landscape to navigate. Generated with Adobe Firefly. Prompt: “Tenure”

We’ve been getting some wild weather due to Hurricane Hilary recently. That’s led to incredibly hot days (typical), incredibly wet days (yay, monsoons!), and incredibly hot and humid days (it’s not always a dry heat). It does mean, though, that we will have some pretty spectacular sights like this double radiant rainbow:

Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving.

Okay, on to the updates.

Our faculty and staff retreat was on 2023-08-18. Was really nice to see folks again. I spent the morning (the all-college portion of the retreat) in my lab and “attending” over Zoom. It gave me the opportunity to “be there” (I was 5 doors down from the meeting room) but also do all sorts of menial work in the lab like updating computers, organizing hardware, et cetera.

Overall, the semester is off to a good start! I just hope there’s nothing falling through the cracks as I feel like I’ve got more plates spinning than ever before.


I spent some time updated the lab’s project template repository to get ready for the school year and any new projects that come along. It’s a work-in-progress, of course. Each time I find a pain point when doing project management, I try to go in and massage the template accordingly.

Here are some updates to the different papers and grants I’ve got in the pipeline.

Paper: jittery jaguar

Got a considerable amount of work done on this over the past week or so. Hopefully we can maintain the momentum!

I use unique codenames for projects since the details might change over time but the project is consistent.

Paper: skeletal mary

Drafting this slowly but surely. Writing the paper feels like a workout, in that it stretches mental muscles that aren’t fully developed yet.

Paper: lanky lion

Got the notification that this paper was accepted the morning of the 23rd. It’s a conference paper that I’m co-authoring with a couple other tenure-eligible folks in my department. Should be a fun one to write!

Grant: polished penguin

A small seed grant. Submitted during this period and am waiting on the first of 3 rounds of approval. 🤞

Grant: serene freya

I submitted a sizable NSF grant as solo PI earlier this year. This week marks the six-month point. My first ever solo PI submission. 🤞

Clip from a recent talk

I gave a talk titled “Our Posthuman Learners: AI and the Future of Education” at an event over the summer. Here’s a little clip of it:

Quick correction: I said 1983 was 30 years ago. It is obviously 40 years ago. In my head, 2020 is still in the future and I’m annoyed my car doesn’t fly.

MA{VR}X Lab Updates

A new year means a new cohort of students engaging in the lab! Lots of interest already shown by undergraduates and graduates, alike, so it’s a matter of narrowing down what lab projects are appropriate for including student researchers and working out just how many the lab can handle this year. I wish I could invite everybody who shows interest but I just don’t have the bandwidth! Now I just have to go in and update the website for the start of the new academic year.

Goals for the next update
  1. Begin analysis on jittery jaguar
  2. Get 3 pages written on skeletal mary
  3. Hopefully serene freya is funded and I can begin that work
  4. Get finished draft of lanky lion written as deadline is under a month away


The range covered in this update is the week prior to the semester start and the first week of the semester. Our online classes (in Desire2Learn, or D2L) open 7 days prior to the semester start, so my class sites have been available to students for a couple weeks already. Lots of time spent during the week of the 21st answering emails, Teams messages, and so on.

Got both classes I’m teaching off to a good start with our live meetings. Some of the most well-attended and engaged classes I’ve had. Should be a good semester.

Crucially, I’m using Teams meetings instead of Zoom this semester as an experiment. I use Teams with all my classes (formerly Slack but couldn’t justify continuing to pay for it when Teams is part of the institution’s Microsoft contract), so it seemed only natural that we should use the built-in Teams functionality rather than introduce another platform. The students I typically get are very often in their first semester at the university, so they’re already having to navigate a wide range of new experiences, software, and processes. So far it’s been great! There’s a bit of a learning curve as Teams is underpinned by SharePoint and group permissions, which get a little confusing. The class meetings themselves worked quite well, though. It’s nice to have the meeting invitations and recordings included natively inside Teams.

Goals for the next update
  1. Update decks where needed
  2. Grade, grade, grade!
  3. Get at least two weeks ahead on prep


Met with my graduate advisees for the first time after the program’s new student orientation meeting. Excited to see just how they’ll get on and how I can be a meaningful part of their journey.

Scheduled some tentative time to do a Matterport 3D scan of the college’s new building on the other side of town.

This year I’ll be continuing my position on the university’s Graduate Council as the representative for my college. Our first meeting will be in September.

Goals for the next update
  1. Confirm dates for the new building scan
  2. Check in with graduate advisees after the program coordinator finalizes the handbook for graduate advisors

To end, here’s a video demonstrating the popularity of our backyard restaurant. Pretty good turnout!



BibTeX citation:
  author = {Straight, Ryan},
  title = {Update: 2023-08-25},
  date = {2023-08-25},
  url = {https://ryanstraight.com/tenure/2023-08-25-update},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
Straight, R. (2023, August 25). Update: 2023-08-25. https://ryanstraight.com/tenure/2023-08-25-update