Callaghan Innovation Postgrad Internship Opportunity

In a couple of weeks we’ll be starting The Great NZ Cat Controversy research project with an actor-network mapping and discourse analysis of public media responses to Gareth Morgan’s infamous Cats To Go campaign.

If you’re interested in where we go from there, you might also be interested in this research and design opportunity with local company, and awesome trap designers, Goodnature.*

Position title:
Urban/Peri urban invasive species tool development: Callaghan Innovation Postgrad Internship


Application close:
14-Nov-2013 Thursday

Dec 2013 – Jan 2014

Employment type:

Remuneration/ Pay rate:
$30,000 for 6 months


Goodnature makes automatic traps that are powered by a recyclable 16gram compressed CO2 gas canister which resets the traps up to 24 times. The traps are toxin free and work by striking the skull of the animal with a glass reinforced polymer striker, killing it instantly. Once the pest has been struck, the piston automatically returns, the pest drops to the ground and automatic trap resets immediately. Goodnature traps have met the highest humane standards in independent testing to animal welfare advisory committee guidelines.

Goodnature has a postgraduate internship position available to investigate and support product development initiatives in urban/peri-urban invasive species pest control.

Shhh… The details are top secret, but the internship project involves high-detail end user testing right through to product conceptualisation.

Due to the wide range of tasks within the project the position would be suitable for a postgraduate from industrial design, environment studies, ecological studies or conservation.

The intern will work as part of the Goodnature team in the Goodnature headquarters in Kilbirnie, Wellington.

The intern will have a great time. Truly. It’s mean as working at Goodnature.

Funding requirements of Callaghan Innovation stipulate that eligible interns must be postgraduate and be either completing masters or doctoral studies from science, technology, engineering, design, business or marketing faculties of a New Zealand university by 1 April 2014, or have graduated within the last six months from 1 July 2013 and are not currently employed.

VUW students apply at CareerHub

* Working with us won’t involve trapping anything, so if that’s what gets you excited (no judgement!) you should definitely apply for the internship. If that’s not what excites you most about animal management strategies, then come talk to us :-)

November is Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)

I’m allergic to joining clubs or movements, and loathe academic productivity imperatives, but I’ve just finished the year’s teaching and have this problem:

A Million Thoughts by Marc Johns

So I’ve decided to find my own way of participating in Academic Writing Month 2013.

First of all, I’ve got some fieldwork to do in November, and since that will continue until teaching starts again in March, I’d really like to establish a sustainable writing routine for the summer. I’ve got some creative writing that needs to be finished in the next couple of weeks, and some journal writing that needs to be sent to peer review by February. I’ve also got a research proposal to draft.

Obviously I can’t get all the journal and proposal writing done in November, but I can definitely get it started. In #AcWriMo-speak that leads me to:

Goal 1: Establish summer writing routine

Goal 2: Edit two short stories

Goal 3: Write one short story

Goal 4: Prepare full draft of one academic article

Goal 5: Draft research project aims, objectives & outcomes

I figure that the first goal is actually the hardest – and most important – for me. I want to block off three hours each weekday morning for writing, making exceptions only when unavoidable. (I also figure this will still allow me to get in at least one hour of academic reading each day!) This schedule could never happen during teaching, so I’ve got fingers (and toes!) crossed I can make it work now. Of course I’m a bit nervous that I’m out of practice and this will feel like going to the gym after holidays: a special kind of torture. So to help me out, I’ll also be participating in weekly Shut Up and Write sessions that my lovely colleagues have organised.

The second and third goals involve creative writing, which I find requires a substantially different mind-set than academic writing even though it’s part of my research. I’ve decided to focus on this first because it has a hard deadline and is mostly done already, and because getting it done should make room in my brain for more traditional academic writing.

The fourth goal is going to test Inger Mewburn’s strategy for How To Write A Journal Article in Seven Days. (I’m actually pretty excited about this task!) And the fifth goal mostly involves getting some thoughts out of my head and onto paper in some sort of structure that is intelligible to others. I’ll need their feedback before I write up the full proposal, and this seems a useful way to start.

With all my goals sorted, I’m left with the “accountability problem.” I can’t bring myself to officially sign up for the month – audit culture saddens me – but I think I can manage weekly #AcWriMo reports on Twitter. And who knows? I might write something here at some point too.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care if I succeed in all these goals. I know I won’t miss my creative writing deadlines, and the rest will work itself out eventually. Using the month to find a new work rhythm is all I really want, and if this helps in any way I’ll be happy.

Let's Go by Marc Johns


Call for PhD Applications

I’m always looking for good students and VUW accepts PhD applications three times a year: 1 March, 1 July and 1 November

The final round for this year’s PhD applications is coming up, and I’m looking for a few good people to come push the boundaries of design research with me.

Do you have a strong background in sociology, anthropology, humanities, or design?

Are you interested in critically evaluating what happens when you combine different ways of thinking, doing and making?

Would you like some experience teaching undergraduate design ethnography, systems of design, or social design?

Yes? Great!

I’m available to supervise doctoral studies in any of the following areas:

  • ethnographic studies of designers
  • human-animal-technology studies
  • STS approaches to design processes & products
  • creative ethnographic methods
  • technosocial controversies
  • design & public understandings of science

Still interested? Excellent!

Here’s everything you need to know about the PhD application process and don’t forget that Victoria Doctoral Scholarships of $23,500 annual stipend + tuition fees are available on a competitive basis. And if that’s still not enough, 96% of people agree that Wellington is an awesome place to live, work and study!

If you have any questions about working with me, or other opportunities in VUW’s School of Design, please just email me directly.


Golden fleece and other fantastic things

As part of Ethnography MattersEthnography, Speculative Fiction and Design month, I’ve just published “Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design“–a personal reflection on what I’ve been doing (mostly design ethnography) and what’s been inspiring me (mostly Ursula Le Guin).

Right after I wrote it, I read the following passage in the latest installment of my favourite urban fantasy series:

“Did you really kill a ram with gold wool?”

“Gods, no. It’s synthetic,” he said.


“We took a ram pelt, coated it in magic to keep it from burning, and dipped it in gold. The real trick was getting the proportion of gold and silver right. I wanted to keep the flexibility of gold, but it’s so heavy the individual hairs kept breaking, and too much silver made it stiff. In the end we went with a gold-copper alloy.”

“Why go through all this trouble?”

“Because kingdoms are built on legends,” Hugh said. “When the hunters are old and gray, they will still talk about how they went to Colchis and hunted for the Golden Fleece.”

How perfect is that?

And then I saw these two things:

Mid-century Australian Petrol Station

Australian Golden Fleece Petrol Station advert, 1950s-60s (via)

Sheep Station

Sheep Station exhibition featuring the work of François-Xavier Lalanne, 2013 (via)


A first time for everything…

I’ve never done this before, but I’m about to use some of my annual leave to get some work done.

The idea of having to work on holiday may sound strange to non-academics, but I know I’m not the only one who finds it really difficult–even impossible sometimes–to keep up on research during the teaching term, when students and admin duties are a full-time job of their own.

I think there’s an institutional-level problem here, but there’s also the simple truth that I’ve got a lot of writing and editing to do, and the longer I go without doing it, the more anxious I feel. (And that’s just no good for me, or anyone near me!)

So for the next five days I’ll be off in the country, where there is no internet access or mobile coverage to distract me, and only this gorgeous view as company:

Mangaone Valley

Wish me luck!

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