Weekly Journal of Sihui’s reflections about higher education

I was late to register this course for 2 weeks, so my reflections will begin on Feb, 9, 2015. Thank you to Dean DePauw and Brenda Harris, the Registration and Program Specialist, for force-adding me and baring with me for being 30 min late for every class due to another class schedule conflict.


I was introduced to this course, and the Future Professoriate graduate certificate program by a senior student in my department. I think it will be interesting to see the graduate students from the other departments, and to be prepared before I graduate.

During my first class, we talked about the university system in the United States. It is interesting to know that the role of president, and how the president is appointed, since they are much different what we do in China. We also talked about the role of provost, dean, faculty, and staff in a university. The appointment by searching is new to me. It also reminds me that I should put the key words in my resume or linkedIn profile, so that I can be searched someday. The introduction of tenure promotion explains why the young professors in my department are busier and more stressful than the senior ones.

Only excellent professors in China have a lifelong position, similar to the Emeritus professors here. Other professors work for universities under contract. I am critical about the tenure promotion. I see some professors with tenure are not as hardworking as the young professors, but they are expected to contribute more since they are more experienced. Self motivation is less effective than the outside pressure at some point. However, tenured professors deserve better salary and compensation for years of efforts.

2/16/2015 I was absent for this class.

2/23/2015 GLC Room G, Communicating Science

We played games in class leading by the teacher, which are funny and new to me. I did not have an interaction class to this extent in China. We played “yes”, “I am”, and “performance” games. We also talked about our own research projects and hometowns privately, and in front of a group of people. I am a bit shy, and I should practice to talk louder publicly. I am very curious to learn the other graduate student study on black bears, and he shared the dumb bear falling in the cliff story with us. If graduate students keep work on their project for a very long time without sharing or talking with other people, we may feel boring or upset about our project. But when the audience show their interest or respect to our research, it encourages and motivates us to work hard because we gain the recognition. I am appreciated that the importance of communicating skills are emphasized in this class, and as an international student we need to strengthen our weakness in communicating in English.

3/2/2015 We continued and finished the overview of higher education (topic one), introduced academic responsibilities such as academic duty, academic freedom, tenure and talked about ethics and professional behavior. For the discussion part, some students brought up the topic of self plagiarism. I have heard about courses covering on ethic for many times since I got here, so I believe this part is extremely important.

3/9/2015 Spring break, no class

3/16/2015 No class

3/23/2015 We talked about the professional expectations, and I feel like I am not ready for job hunting. Not only my research skills, but also I need to improve the communicating skills, to build my confidence, to be stronger to over come the difficulties.

We also talked about the freedom of speech. There is a famous Chinese saying, disasters always come out of human mouth, which reminds us to be cautious on the words.  The Great Pretender story shocked me, and it is our duty, as individual researcher, to stick to the ethic rules. I am appreciated that my department offers the course Professionalism in Food Science and requires every new graduate student to take the course at the first semester in graduate school. I learned the DOs and DON’Ts at the beginning of graduate school.

3/30/2015 International student talked about the higher education in their own country. I admire the student who is the single student from his country, or only a few students are from the same country. The governmental scholarship or the assistantship from Virginia Tech are very helpful. They will not only benefit a single student, his or her family, but also the influence of educated person will expand to the community around him or her. We may say, the life of international students are not easy, but you can help us even with being patient when we are talking to each other. I am lucky that my colleagues in Food Science and Technology Department are very friendly and kind, and my lab mates are interested in Chinese culture and we often talk about the difference between China and the States. They are helpful to correct my pronunciation and bare with my poor English. They show me the interesting things that I never heard of, invite me to parties and football games, and help me search the targeted car and insurance and I can not settle down and live happily without them.

4/6/2015 Two Chinese students, as representatives, talked about the higher education in China. I was late 30 minutes to the class as usual, and they were talking in the front so I did not join them. But we discussed what to cover in emails over the weekends. I am glad they introduced China to the other students, and I am surprised to know that American students know China less than we know about the United States.

4/13/2015 I viewed “Everything is a Remix” Ted Talk by Kirby Ferguson before class. We talked about Open Access in class. I am curious about how the publisher can survive if all the published papers are free to read and the databases are free to access. It was surprised to me that the publishers do no charge any money to the authors if they want to publish a paper on the journal, because in China all the authors pay the journal to get their work published.

4/20/2015 No class

4/27/2015 Two guests from Africa were in our class and talked with us and observed for a while. I think it was much better to interact with students than just talking with the administrators in the university for the visitors who want to know how the higher education system work and bring the good things back to their country. We did the How Millennial Are You? quiz, and the whole class got 95, but I got 92 in this quiz. The idea of cheaper freshman year online courses in Arizona State University is an example for open access and technology applied to education. I do not like to take online courses, since the interaction part is less than the class taken in actual classroom with a real professor and classmates.

5/4/2015 We talked about the pros of cons of Scholar and Canvas. I like Canvas more personally, because the webpages load quicker in Canvas than Scholar. In Scholar, the grade pages load extremely slowly. Feedbacks were collected at the beginning of class. Then we began the topic about what needs to be changed in higher education. Students brought the tenure debate again. I talked with one professor in my department, and he worked in France for a few years and then came back to the United States still being a faculty.  He told me his own experience as a faculty in the United States, the tenure track, and in France, the non-tenure track. In France, he was less stressful because there was no pressure of getting tenure at the first a few years. The research faculty got fundings from the government or industry or third party institutions without applying or summiting the proposal. But the research projects were fixed, and he did not have the choice to choose the interesting field that he wanted to explore sometimes if the assigned projects did not match his research interests. Compared in the United States, the young tenure tracking professors are flexible to apply for the interesting projects, although the funding are highly competitive. I think the tenure system is better and more encouraged for talented researchers and ordinary researchers are pushed to work hard this way. We discussed more questions from students. We are more interesting on how to find and get a faculty job. My department is trying to hire 2 new faculty member recently, and one potential candidate is visiting our department this Friday. I will go to the research and teaching seminar and the welcome meeting to see how the process is.

I really enjoy this course, especially the discussion interaction during our classes.

Being faculty

I wish I can be a faculty member after I get my PhD degree in Food Science and Technology, or maybe after post doc to be more competitive. But I did not think about my being a faculty philosophy until I took part in this course, since I just started graduate school, and there is at least 4 years before I graduate and hunting for a faculty member position.

Preparation is never too early. I would like to be a faculty member with major appointment on research, and no more than 20% appointment on teaching, and 10% appointment on extension. Within the agriculture field, grant land university like Virginia Tech will require the faculty to contribute to research outreach and apply the research results to practice and benefit the local people, called extension. I think it is an efficient mode to communicate between research lab and practical or economic output.

As a research scientist, I am willing to take no more than 2 graduate students a year, so that I can put more effort and time on mentoring them, not only on academic research, but also on long-term successful life and career. Encouragement but not push is very important, especially students are at their low point. I am responsible to let them know that failure or disappointment are common thing in research and life, but we should be perseverant and optimistic. Our smartness and hard work will lead us to come out of the darkness before the sun raising. As an advisor, I am always be there to ignite the inspiration of students, and work with them to solve the problem.

For the teaching part, I would like to provide a broader view to the undergraduate and graduate students on the subject that I am familiar with. Through the introduction, I hope some students can find the fields that truly attract them and worthy to spent the rest of the life on. Not only with the skills or knowledge I teach them to make a living, but to enjoy them, and contribute and help other people.


Sports are very helpful for getting to know each other, cooperating with each other, releasing the stress from work, and keeping good health for work. So I will arrange the monthly sports activity in my lab, and also welcome other friends and colleagues to join us.

In general, with the knowledge and experience I gained, giving and helping the students and the society is the core philosophy as being a faculty member.



Open access

I found that International Journal of Food Science is an open access journal.

This journal is published by Hindawi Publishing Corporation from New York, USA, and Nasr City, Egypt.

The aims and scope of this journal is “International Journal of Food Science is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that publishes original research articles as well as review articles in all areas of food science”.

This journal offers the free full text of all their published articles to all readers around the world. The readers who are interested in the articles can even download and distribute the article to someone else for free. This free version promotes the popularity of their published articles by giving more convenient access to potential readers. The value of the published journal is increased since more people easily read the articles compared to the non-open access journals.

The journal will charge 600 dollars (Article Processing Charges) on the authors for one manuscript of research article or review article once the manuscript is selected to be published. Kindly, the journal will not charge the authors from low income countries, whose gross domestic product of less than 200 billion US dollars. Additionally, the authors belong to an institute, which is a member of Hindawi institutional membership program, will not be charged of the Article Processing Charges. But the copyright of the published articles is still belong to the authors. Others who want to cite the articles should also give credits to the authors, and cite properly.


Scholarly Integrity

I Professional Code of Ethics

I found the professional code of ethics for International Food Technologists, as I am a master student in Food Science and Technology, who plan on stepping into the world of food science and becoming a food scientist.

“Consistent with global best practices for the development and maintenance of certification programs, those receiving their CFS designation will be asked to uphold a Professional Code of Ethics.  This will apply to all certificants and candidates, and establishes professional conduct standards and minimal ethical behavior requirements. Certificants and candidates shall:

  • Perform your duties with objectivity, due diligence, and professional care.
  • Strive for continuous learning and comply with recertification requirements.
  • Be truthful, accurate, and complete with all information provided as part of the certification and recertification process.
  • Maintain confidentiality and security of certification examination information and materials.
  • Cooperate with International Food Science Certification Commission concerning ethics inquiries.
  • Report personal conduct that may violate this Code of Ethics to the International Food Science Certification Commission in a timely manner.
  • Use credentials properly.
  • Comply with applicable laws, policies, ethical, and professional standards related to the global food system.
  • Provide truthful and accurate information about your professional experiences and competency.
  • Maintain confidentiality when necessary and appropriate unless disclosure is required by legal authority or failure to release such information would likely result in death or serious physical harm to employees and/or the public.
  • Avoid and disclose any actual or perceived conflict of interest or any appearance of impropriety to ensure that it does not compromise your interests or the interests of an employer, employee, or the public.
  • Avoid engaging in any examination preparation-related activity or any other activity which creates a conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest with the examination for a period of three (3) years after taking the examination.
  • Avoid offering or accepting payments, gifts, or other forms of compensation or benefits intended to influence professional decisions.”

Copied from http://www.ift.org/certification/forcandidates/code-of-ethics.aspx

On the ORI scholarly integrity website (http://ori.hhs.gov/), I found one research misconducting case about Dr. Xiao Dong, who was a research assistant professor in Department of Urology at University of Pittsburgh. He falsified research data in the research project supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published the fabricated data. This is a serious and unethical misconduct, and he received notice from ORI and entered a 3-year Voluntary Settlement Agreement with limited research conduct.

His misconduct ruined the trust in his research, and should never happen again on a scientist. It is our duty to report true and subjective data as a researcher. Any misconduct deserve harsh punishment.


Mission Statement

I found 2 mission statements of higher institutions. The first one is from Virginia Tech, USA, which is a public land-grant university. The other is from University of Helsinki, Finland, which is one of Europe’s top multidisciplinary research universities.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life. (http://www.president.vt.edu/mission_vision/mission.html)

This mission statement is very interesting to me from the aspect that Virginia Tech is a public land-grant university. It serves the public by outreach and extension, which is new to me. In my department Food Science and Technology, some faculty have the partial or full appointment for extension. They will help the food manufacturers on the food safety relating concern or wine makers on selecting wine grapes and fermentation process, as well as providing educational nutrition program for FREE. In China, these kind of services are offered by the governmental agencies instead of research and higher education institutes.

The University of Helsinki is the most versatile institution for science, education, and intellectual renewal in Finland, a pioneering builder of the future. (http://www.helsinki.fi/strategy/)

This mission statement is very short and precise. As the elite multidisciplinary research university in Europe, its call for critical thinking, thriving and inspiring creativity, and the persistant pursue of truth impress me when I was an exchange student in my junior year. The whole community is very friendly to international student, and you will rarely feel to be treated as a foreigner.

Although the two statements are different due to the difference in the type of the institution, both universities are strive to be a better higher education institutes and serve the community more.