Every new academic has people they look up to…and not just their advisors. The word “affair” maybe taking it too far, but they often reference them often, and by last name only.
Such phrases as “Schoppe’s article talks about” or “Lang’s theoretical symposium discusses…” or “Wellander’s conceptual framework is an underpinning for…”
Yes, these professors exist. To us, they’re known as rockstars!
Professor rockstars = ultimate nerdom.
For me, this is Lamb.
No, Dr. Michael Lamb from Cambridge University.
I had a chance to meet him back in 2010 at the Society for Cross Cultural Research. Alas, I was too afraid to introduce myself. I, a very outgoing guy, couldn’t build up the nerve to say hi.
Afterall, what do you really say:
Thankful: “I love your work.” -Lame
Idolizing: “You’re my hero.” -Overeager
Developing Researcher: “I want to be like you when I grow up.” -Classless
Academic speak: “I read your latest paper on the transitive properties of parenthood….” -Pompous
Relatable: “Hi, I also do ground breaking work on fatherhood.” -Arrogant
Side note: I had a chance to work at the Indianapolis 500 for four years in the pagoda–the tall building where all of the celebrities go.
I took dozens of celebrities up and down the elevator making small talk. I got to talk with Michael Madsen (seemed like a really good dad). I even had to push Jesus (Jim Caviezel) for being a little disorderly. And I was left alone with Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson (along with their bodyguard); having a fifteen minute conversation with Nick and his massive bodyguard, while Jessica freshened up for singing the national anthem.
A 15 second talk to one of my research hero’s: couldn’t do it.
I knew from the conference program that Lamb would be at SRCD in Philadelphia, so I was determined to meet him this time.
The conference was coming to a close, but I managed to make it to one of his talks (or more specifically some of his students’/coresearchers’ talks).
How do I start a conversation with Lamb, I thought. Afterall, I didn’t want it to turn into a rehash of SCCR.
I’ll ask them a question about their research, became my conclusion.
After the presentation, I raised my hand, and asked my important question on same-sex research. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember that I mentioned that I came from Sweden and that Lamb, as opposed to the speaker, answered me.
Yes! I thought. Now I have an excuse to just say Hi.
Mind you—all I want to do is just say Hi. And these are the lengths and the numerous thoughts that are zipping through my head to accomplish my (simple) goal.
The talk ended. Questions were over. I stood up and started making my way toward a guy whose work I had religiously read while earning my master’s and PhD and now was my time to let him know that I existed.
“Hej, hur mår du? Jag kommer från Malmö, [Hi, how are you? I’m from Malmo]” said a woman who was now standing between Lamb and myself.
She was quite pleasant, and we had a great conversation. Even knowing some of the same people.
But this talk took too long. I watched Lamb leave the room. I briefly thought about sending him an email, but that never transpired.
So, another conference, another day–perhaps I’ll get a chance to say hi to one of my academic rockstars.
Anti-climatic – what new researcher can’t relate?