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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get To Know LATIS'S Alison Link

Name: Alison Link
When did you start working at the U? 2013

Current position? Educational Technologies Consultant, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team

Where can we find you online? @linkalis

What excites you about working at the U/LATIS? I have an undergraduate background in liberal arts, so I'm excited to work in a college that is committed to providing a solid liberal arts experience within the University. I believe a liberal arts education gives students incredibly practical skills for global citizenship, critical- and constructive thinking. These skills are highly nuanced, and aren't easy to reduce to metrics or summarize in news headlines, which is why they sometimes fall out of favor in popular culture. But they are deep, subtle, and support life-long growth. I'm excited to work in a space where we encourage students to grow their respect for diverse ways of knowing--from qualitative to quantitative, artistic to prosaic, observational to abstract, and everything in between!

What do you consider to be a best kept secret about the U? The UMN Department of Food Science and Nutrition runs a Dairy Salesroom on the St. Paul Campus that is open on Wednesday afternoons from 2-5pm.  Or, just head to the St. Paul Gopher Spot (in the basement of the St. Paul Student Center) to get a scoop of campus-made ice cream anytime. The corn flavored ice cream is my personal favorite. Try it with a dash of salt and it tastes just like corn on the cob!

Is there a technology trend that you think constituents should embrace? What is it and how could it be used to make their work/person lives easier? Can you help? I was the lucky winner of a Pebble smart watch at a local tech event a few years back. While I inititally started out as a "smart" device critic, my Pebble watch and I have grown into a pretty good partnership at this point. I started by turning off all of its e-mail notifications to quiet it down a bit. Now, my watch just alerts me to incoming calls and breaking global news events. And one of the coolest things about Pebble watches is that they let you write your own apps to use!

For example, I recently wrote an app that lets me keep track of my congressional representatives and see how they've been voting on current bills going through Congress. So now, I can give myself my own mini legislative briefing every morning right from my watch. And if anyone out there in the CLA community has some other ideas for watch apps, I'd love to hear them and brainstorm new ideas together!


What is your dream job? Back in middle school, we took a career profile quiz that suggested I should be a civil engineer. I had no idea what a "civil engineer" was at the time, so I didn't take it too seriously. Now, I realize that my middle school self probably had some good character insights...


What was your worst or most unusual job? I was a camp counselor for two summers at an English immersion camp in a tiny town in Switzerland. (And when I say "tiny", we're talking a population of about 500 people.) I later found out that that tiny town was in the same valley where my great-great grandpa grew up. I looked out across the valley at his family's farmhouse every morning without even realizing it!


Pet peeves: I'm not a big fan of acronyms, and the University of Minnesota is full of them! It's a losing battle.



Motto or personal mantra: "It's better to be half-baked than burnt."


Your favorites: 
  • Favorite book/author: I remember reading "Babbit" back in high school and loving Sinclair Lewis's snarkily elegant prose. (And he's a fellow Minnesotan!)
  • Favorite website? I love http://www.howtogeek.com/ for fun tutorials that are accessible to geeks of all ilks and experience levels.
  • Favorite brand? Trader Joe's makes the most amazing frozen foods. I don't know how they do it, but it's wonderful for someone like me who doesn't have a lot of confidence in the kitchen.
  • Favorite food and drink? The Germans have a breakfast spread that involves what they call "Weisswurst" (white sausages) and a half-liter of hefeweizen beer.  It. Is. Miraculous.
  • Favorite TV show and movie? I love The Mindy Project and pretty much any musical film out there.
  • Favorite musician or band? I spent some time in Montreal, where I got really into Quebecois folk music.  Lots of cool drum beats and down-to-earth fiddle sounds.
  • Favorite place on Earth? Budapest and Montreal are two cities that have really stuck out for me on my travels. They both share a kind of "European humble chic" feeling that I love.

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