Other kinds of graduate school fun

One of the fun things about seminar trips is you get to meet some wonderful graduate students. I am not alone in viewing invitations by graduate students as the hardest to turn down. The trip I made in the fall to Cornell was a great one! One of the results was a request by grad student Joe Welklin to share the guest post below. It is a spoof of the kind I like. I am not big on actual practical jokes, but this is fun.

I suppose I’ll just have to mention my all time favorite spoof, Bad Project, from Baylor College of Medicine. Surely you have seen it? It actually comes up first if you simply enter “bad project” into your search engine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl4L4M8m4d0

How to have Fun in Graduate School by Joe Welklin

Do you know how to have fun in grad school? Maybe you’re asking yourself: “is that even possible?” Well I’m here to tell you it is. For the past two years the equipment manager in the Neurobiology and Behavior department at Cornell University has put on a gorilla suit at Halloween and paraded through the building disrupting classrooms and research alike. Last year we had fun with him by dangling a banana in front of his face from a catwalk, but that was mere child’s play.
This year we knew what was coming and came prepared. Through a little bit of peer pressure (ok maybe a lot) 12 of us graduate students purchased banana costumes. But prior to Halloween we had to be sure the gorilla would appear, so four days before that fateful Friday we plastered bait around the building so good that no gorilla could pass up:

When Friday came around we snuck down to the atrium, the gorilla made his appearance, and we had the best 30-minute study break of our graduate school career. At this point you may be thinking, that’s nice, but MY department would NEVER do anything like that. Well why not? Why haven’t you tried? This is a call to arms people! Get out of your desk chair, close down that R-script for a moment and assemble the required goods with a few simple steps:

1. Find someone or a group of people who can take a surprise
2. Convince or pressure your fellow graduate students to join in. They’ll thank you when it’s all over
3. Lay the bait, ambiguous signs claiming free materials (especially free food) have been found to work well to draw a crowd of observers
4. Carefully plan the presentation; the first 10 seconds are key for setting the mood but from then on out let collective behavior take over. The more spontaneous the ideas the better
5. Remember Murphy’s Law. Things will go wrong, be ready to adapt!

So there you have it, go pull a prank that will make even the stodgiest of the stodgy professors crack a smile.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in Graduate school, Life in a biology department and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Other kinds of graduate school fun

  1. joshlap says:

    Reblogged this on The Dr.* Science Chronicles and commented:
    Our department made the blogosphere! Those of you in graduate school may find this post particularly interesting and/or amusing!

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