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

Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Dean Cooks a Sausage!!

What:  Dean’s Sausage Sizzle

When: Thursday the 26th February

Where:  Abbey Common

Why:  Fun!

It was a beautiful day for a real kiwi bbq.  The smell of charred snarlers and the sounds of some dodgy tunes filled the air.


Rachel “Break-Your-BBQ” Sproken-Smith, Susan “Onion-Empress” Craig, Sarah “Monster-Sausage-Wrangler” McGregor, and Claire “I’ll-Falafel-You” Gallop put their spatulas on the line for the Graduate Research Community.

the chefs

As a manager, I look to develop my team wherever I can.  Witness the enjoyment on Tina’s face as I teach her how to flip a falafel on the BBQ.*

TIna and Claire

The top ten per cent of theses at Otago are classified as exceptional.  It is a little known fact that in the world of charcuterie there are special classifications for exceptional sausages.  1 in 14 sausages are Monster Sausages and GRS are awestruck in their presence.

salad and an exceptional long sausage

Rachel “Smasher” Spronken-Smith destroys the BBQ with a brutal prod of the tongs. Some gentle probing uncovers the fact that she doesn’t want her husband to know that she can actually barbeque and is prepared to destroy Abbey College’s equipment to avoid the grill at home.

Dean and broken bbq

The queue for food before the riot broke out.  Rachel “Destroyer” Spronken-Smith waggled her tongs at the marauding attendees and soon got them back in line.


It was a lovely event and it was great to see so many people come along.  Thanks to the team at GRS for organising it and for Abbey College for hosting it.

*<As a staff member I pretend to put up with Claire’s nonsense but actually I am thinking about Panda’s handsome and broad shoulders> Tina.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

Panda’s Big Graduate Research Adventure: Undercover Staff Member

Recovered from putting the system on trial as a thesis student, undercover Panda Bear, Mr Panda B. Ear, heads back to the Graduate Research School to delve into their stationery drawers.

What is life like as an administrator in GRS?  Is it a basket of kittens or a bag of badgers?

Day One: 8:30am

I slipped behind the GRS Reception Desk like a Jaffa slips through a Manager’s sweaty hands on a hot day.  When I first explained that I was the new temp replacing Katherine on reception for the week, no one was any the wiser.  I was confident and dressed for success.  I was convinced the job would be a doddle.

Things started going downhill when Tina started to get suspicious of my telephone manner.  By 9am I was imagining her eyes boring into my handsome and well-proportioned back.

panda rocks reception desk

Day One: 9:15am

Hmm, not such a doddle after all.  It seems needing a bamboo break is not an acceptable excuse for screaming at a candidate trying to submit a PhD.  Who knew?

Katherine has been recalled from her holiday and they have shunted me into the back office so I don’t “scare” or “bite” the students.

Panda in schols office

Day One: 9:45am

Am beginning to despair of this assignment.  All these guys do is work and it seems they do not take kindly to members of the team using doctoral applications to line a litter box.

I’ve said I’m going out for donuts but I’m actually going for gold.  If there is any dirt to find, I’m convinced it’s in the Dean’s office; I never trust a professor with a double-barrelled name.

Panda and the dean

Day One: 9:57am

Turned out there was nothing to see there.  The Dean caught me wearing her lei and chewing on her favourite pot plant; thank goodness she didn’t see me making anklets out of her paper clips.

She sent me packing and with less than one and half hours of service on the clock, I needed a wee rest.  This was the longest morning of my life.

Panda lies down

If going undercover in the Graduate Research School taught me anything, it’s that those administrators all need a jolly great pay rise and a big hug for doing all that paperwork. Especially the Manager of the School, she’s particularly awesome.  I’d go as far as to say she is magnificent.  Yes, that’s surely the moral of this story.

Panda B. Ear

Love is in the Air!

Vday blog2

The University of Otago is not just a great place to do a doctorate, it also is the place to find true love.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day and all thing lovely and lovey,the awesome Mel Adams hunted out Daniel Wee (PhD candidate in Philosophy) and Saemyi Chung (PhD candidate in Social and Community Work) to discuss juggling love and a PhD.

First up, how did you meet?

Daniel: At Abbey College–she arrived as a new resident and sat at my table during dinner.

Saemyi: I arrived at Abbey College and the senior college assistant introduced me to Daniel because there were no residents left at the dining room. He was lucky!

How do you find balancing PhD study and life as a married couple?

Daniel: We’re doing fine. The important thing is to organise your time well and take breaks!                                   

Saemyi: We are doing well. Since we stay at Abbey that means that we don’t need to prepare meals and clean our rooms!

If Abbey College was burning down which will you save – your PhD research or your beloved? 

Daniel: Saemyi, but thank goodness for Dropbox!

Saemyi: Of course you know my answer, Daniel!

Photo for Valentines interviewAny tips for couples who are about to start a PhD?

Daniel: Try and have a rough budget planned together, and try to subsidise costs through sharing.

Saemyi: They should learn to respect each other’s discipline, and share housework.

Do you find it helps having a spouse who is also studying a PhD?

Daniel: Definitely. It helps to have someone going through similar challenges to talk share experiences with.

Saemyi: Of course. We can understand each other very well, particularly with regards to meeting deadlines!

When did you get married?  Did you have a big wedding?

Daniel and Saemyi: We got married in June of last year. I guess it was a fairly large ceremony, about 300 people attended. It was held at Saemyi’s church in Seoul, Korea.

Did you take your theses on your honeymoon?

Daniel: My supervisor suggested it, saying you never know when inspiration or an idea might hit you! But I think I left it at the back of my mind until we got back to Dunedin.

Saemyi: Of course not! My supervisor said they got married when they were doing their own PhD and knew that it would be best for me to enjoy my honeymoon.

If your spouse was an animal what would they be?

Daniel: Saemyi likes nature and walking in the botanic garden, so I think a bird would fit her.

Saemyi: A dolphin, because he’s quite clever and likes salmon.

If your thesis was an animal what would it be?

Daniel: I guess it would be a circus animal, something that needs constant care and training—maybe a circus elephant?

Saemyi: A cheetah would be nice—reaching its target without making any mistakes!

Who is due to submit their thesis first?

Daniel: I am, by about ten months before Saemyi .

Saemyi: He is ten months ahead of me, but you know what, anything can happen before the end!

And do you have plans to celebrate the first thesis submission or will you have a joint celebration when you both submit?

Daniel: We’ll probably have a small celebration when I submit, and then a bigger one once Saemyi submits hers.

Saemyi: Thank you Daniel, I agree!