When you choose to go on leave from a University for a year, you make the choice to miss certain things. Meetings about your research. Team meetings about your centre. Grant writing sessions for projects you were previously on. Guest lectures. Project Launches. Having access to physical resources such as libraries. Hanging out in the pub with colleagues and students. Coffee. Lunch. Bumping into people in the corridor, and just saying hi. I didn't mind missing any of these things, really, when I was on maternity leave: it was my choice to have children, and to take almost the maximum (very generous) maternity leave I was granted from my job. It was all good. Except one thing.
The one thing I missed when I was on leave was the PhD Viva, and resulting celebrations, of my first PhD student to go through the system under my watchful eye: Ernesto Priego. I was Ernesto's secondary supervisor (Claire Warwick his first), on his PhD in web comics, where he researched
the impact of analog and digital technologies on comics... debating the manner in which theories of materiality illuminate the media-specificity of comics, webcomics, mobile comics apps, and how comic book culture fits within current debates about the future of the book.
Ernesto passed back in the spring, and I've watched on the twitters as he does corrections, hands in, gets things bound up, and gets the final letter through. Well done Doctor Ernesto! Sorry I wasnt there to help drink champagne. I know you know it was impossible for me to come into the city at that time. It really was the only thing I regret missing over the year that I was on leave.
Ernesto initiated and co-organises The Comics Grid, a web-based international collaboratory of comics scholars. You can also find him on the twitters, @ernestopriego. And tomorrow he is coming to see me, to catch up, and to start doing a little research assistant work for me on a Super Top Secret Project which we cant talk about until the Spring. I'm looking forward to it.
Which leads me to think... I have ten PhD students at the moment. A lot of my new research is focussing around what they are doing, and I'm having tremendous fun working with them, and colleagues across UCL who are also supervising. With their permission, I'm going to start blogging about the work that we are doing right now.
But Ernesto, as honorary PhD student (do we ever leave our PhD supervisors?) is the first to be mentioned on here.
The image above, btw, is taken from my autographed copy of PhD Comics. Ernesto took Jorge Cham on a tour of UCL and they swung by my office. It was like a medieval scholar meeting Chaucer, and the look on Ernesto's face, to be chatting with one of the people he had studied in depth, was one of my favourite memories of supervising Ernesto's PhD.