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March 22, 2010

A humorous look at the lives of grad students

Creator of PhD comics will visit NIU for March 26 talk

DeKalb, Ill. — Students and faculty looking for a good laugh will be in for a treat when author Jorge Cham, founder of PhD Comics, visits campus later this week.

Jorge Cham and friends

Also known as Piled Higher and Deeper, PhD Comics takes a humorous look at life, or the lack thereof, in academia. Cham will present a public talk at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 26, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium.

A reception and book signing, hosted by the Physics Graduate Student Committee and Department of Physics, will follow at about 4:45 p.m. in Room 200 of La Tourette Hall (formerly known as Faraday West). Cham’s books will be available for purchase at the event and also are available online at his Web site (www.phdcomics.com).

Cham’s comic strip has appeared in The Stanford Daily for the past nine years, and in the MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and Caltech newspapers, among others. The strip also has appeared or been featured in the journal Nature and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“His comics recount the many trials and tribulations of graduate student life, and resonate strongly with NIU students,” says Martin Winslow, a graduate student in physics who helped organize the event as part of the Department of Physics colloquium series. The departments of Mathematical Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry and Geology and Environmental Geosciences also contributed to bringing Cham to campus.

“While the talk is certainly not exclusive to graduate students, it will probably relate more to those that have been or are currently in a graduate program,” Winslow says. “Graduate school can be stressful and often leave a student with a feeling of isolation, but Dr. Cham's use of humor to poke fun at the culture of academia can make the experience more reassuring.”

In his presentation, titled “The Power of Procrastination,” Cham will talk about his experiences bringing humor into the lives of stressed-out academics, examine the source of their anxieties and explore the guilt, the myth and the power of procrastination.

Cham holds a Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University, specializing in robotics.

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Media Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Media Relations and Internal Communications
Phone: (815) 753-3635
Email: tparisi@niu.edu