Skip to Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map

Daily Archives: October 31, 2014

Claire Gallop, the Ghost of GRS?

Ghost Claire

As part of our series checking out the who’s and what’s of the Graduate Research School I paid my first visit to Claire Gallop – Manager of the School* to ask her the hard, and sometimes not so hard, questions.  Claire talked 91.38% nonsense about her role in the School and the wider University.  Here’s a run-down of our conversation….

Susan Craig, Graduate Research School

1)      Tell me about your role as “Manager of the GRS” – what is it you do?

The job is part Michael Clayton and part Mary Poppins with a spot of Dead Poets Society thrown in.  Thankfully it is rarely The Exorcist.

It’s great work if you can get it.

2)      What’s your favourite aspect of the role?

The bribes.

No!  Of course it’s working with the thesis candidates.  They are a bunch of smart, enthusiastic people and it’s great to be a part of their thesis journey.  I loved running the Insider’s Guide to Doctoral Domination PhD induction programme (which is coming back next year).  It is fantastic to meet the candidates and hopefully be able to help them with issues that they might be struggling with.

I also really enjoy when a candidate comes into the School to submit a PhD – it’s great when they bring their friends and colleagues and really celebrate what is, after all, an incredible achievement.  When I finally submit might I’m going to create chaos the like of which GRS has never seen before!

3)      I can’t help but notice the fabulous collection of Lego in your office and the smattering of Halloween decorations poking out of your cupboards…  would you like to tell me about those?  Rumour has it you have the unofficial title of GRS Halloween Queen…

Not after last night’s truly evil Halloween Quiz run by OUPS; turns out I’m barely a Halloween Lady-in-Waiting.  I reckon they made up half the answers to those questions.  Where was the romance novel section?  Why didn’t they ask for the lyrics of ABBA songs or what PhD Regulation 4 b. is?**

I take back what I said about enjoying working with students.

Ahem, yes, I do have a bit of Lego in my office.  I am slowly building up a village from the Creator Expert series.  I keep it in my office so my kids can’t play with it.


4)      The Man Upstairs much?

<Big Scuffle>


5)      I know from personal experience and enjoyment that you are a fabulous baker Claire.  What’s your favourite thing to bake and why?

Caramel Chip Cookies.  Mmmm  cookies.  They are super yum and super easy.

6)      If you could have ONE wish granted, what would it be?

George Clooney.

7)      You’ve been with the GRS for a few years now, but I’d like to know about your life before the GRS…

Do you mean post- or pre- witness protection?

Well, I was a lecturer in the Bioethics Centre for around five years and I’ve been hanging around the University doing a PhD in Philosophy for quite a while.  Before that I lurked around the Politics Department at Auckland University studying and teaching.  I guess I’m a university groupie.

8)      What is the best piece of advice you would like to share with our graduate research candidates?

Ask questions! Ask lots of them, ask them diplomatically, and ask the right people.   Ask your department about what they do to support you.  Ask the Graduate Research School about the PhD regulations.  Ask your supervisor about how they manage the writing process.

If you are worried about it, ask!  Actually, even if you are not worried about it, ask.  But ultimately this is your thesis so you will have to decide how you choose to respond to the answers you are given.

9)      Your house is a bit of a menagerie, with a collection of giant cats and chickens.  If there was a fire, which would you save first and why??

Oh that’s easy.  It would have to be Monster Truck.  He may be big of body and even bigger of paw, but he is a cat of very little brain.  All the others could get out alive but Monster Truck would walk towards the fire and slap a steak on the couch thinking he was at a barbecue.


10)   And finally, and most importantly, would you rather fight a horse-sized-duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

It’s a little known untrue fact that I’m called the Bruce Lee of GRS so I’m glad you asked me this. I’ve thought about this long and hard and I’m totally going 100 duck-sized-horses. Ducks are dodgy at the best of times and a horse-sized-duck would be lethal.  That vicious bitey bill would be at you.  Also who wants to get slapped by a giant webbed foot?

However, you could easily boot the teeny horses out of the way.  I reckon you could punt them quite far; it would be poetry in motion.***

* The views expressed in this interview do not represent the views of the Graduate Research School nor the University of Otago.  Heck, they barely even represent Claire’s views.

** 4 b. The minimum period of study shall be equivalent to 2.5 full-time years and the maximum period shall be equivalent to 4 full-time years. Exceptions shall be permitted only with approval of the Senate.

*** No horse-sized ducks or duck-sized-horses were harmed in the course of this interview.