Transitions, data, and writing, too: A rhyming guide to my year in review

MIT Media Lab
Jan 15, 2019 · 3 min read

By Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund

2018: A year defined by a PhD,
A study, analyses, and a writing spree.
A kid who’s growing; a family, moving.
Always learning, ever improving.

In January, I was glued to a laptop,
Programming robots and testing nonstop.
I recorded dialogue; recruited schools;
Prepped assessments; built software tools.

Snowy street outside my apartment. Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

February is a wild, snowy blur
Of consent forms, paperwork, and red and blue fur.
Kids signed up!
The robot was ready!
All this made me happy, since progress was steady.

Tega, our fuzzy red and blue robot. Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

As March snow melted, the study began!
I drove to schools and followed my plan.
Eight sessions each, plus pre and post;
The robot was keeping the kids engrossed.

In April, one kid, who wasn’t too shy,
Told me he was “actually part robot, so I can fly!”
(Tega, our robot, it’s worth pointing out,
Just talks, and sits, and looks about.)

By May, I was glad if the robots didn’t break,
But why oh why did I choose this headache?
Long-term studies will be my demise
Why oh why do I do this, you guys?

Oh wait, it’s June, long-term studies are the best!
Look, I have data, totally worth being stressed!
Learning with robots over time — this is nice!
Awesome research, look: data! Worth the price.

Lake Coeur d’Alene. Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

In July, let’s mix it up and buy a home,
Way out west where there’s space to roam,
More lakes, more space, and bonus, it’s cheap!
Less traffic, more mountains; more yard upkeep.

In a haze of boxes and packing tape,
The month of August and ggplot graphs take shape.
Let’s leave the humidity and Boston’s heat:
Analyze data; start writing; retreat.

Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

September is data, papers, and writing.
And writing, revising, and then some rewriting.
I find getting three great professors to be
In the same place at the same time isn’t all that easy.

Yellow leaves on a maple tree (in my new yard!). Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

I like watching the colored October leaves from my chair.
They dance and they spin, red and yellow in the air.
Oh wait, I’m still writing. I need a new graph…
Add to this chapter; fix that paragraph….

Elian and me. Credit: Randy Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

My baby is two! He’s as tall as a table!
He’s finally stopped trying to eat all our cables!
I’m still writing. Time to start my talk prep.
Defense Day is looming on the doorstep.

Post-defense photo with my committee! Left to right: Cynthia Breazeal, Jacqueline Kory Westlund, Rosalind Picard, and Paul Harris. Credit: Jacqueline M. Kory Westlund. License: CC-BY 4.0

Now here’s a day that I’ll remember!
Dissertation defense on the 12th of December.
Crazy year it’s been, that and then some…
But hey: Dr. Jackie, here I come!

Originally published at www.media.mit.edu.

Read more year’s-end reflections from members of the Media Lab community.
Better Natures
Emotions // Electrical Signals

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