Author Archives: Tseen Khoo

About Tseen Khoo

Dr Tseen Khoo is a lecturer in research education and development at La Trobe University, Melbourne. In previous incarnations, Tseen has been a research grant developer, policy officer, and research fellow. She founded the national research network AASRN, edited the Journal of Intercultural Studies for 5 years, and has secured major competitive grants. To find out more than you want to know, visit

Where RW can take me


ECU Library, Joondalup, WA  |  Photo by Tseen Khoo

I’ve just returned from a brilliant trip to WA – to Perth and Edith Cowan University. ECU – Joondalup, to be precise.

I was invited to ECU by Con Wiebrands (ECU’s University Librarian), to give a presentation to her Library staff and Research Office people, too. It was the first time I’d been invited to give a presentation to an audience that was not higher degree researchers or early career researchers.

It felt like a challenge, and my presentation on “What ECRs want” aimed to generate intra-university connection and collaboration to create an enabling ECR research environment.

There were several notable things about this gig, which came about because of The Thesis Whisperer’s advocacy and my work on The Research Whisperer with Jonathan O’Donnell.

One of things I realise repeatedly and gratefully since about mid-2012, is that RW is truly the gift that keeps on giving. We have had so many lovely opportunities to meet with excellent colleagues and try out new audiences, and to be able to share the experiences and wisdom of so many researchers.

Knowing how much rides on invited speakers, it’s always an honour to be approached as an event guest. We often find ourselves giving talks and workshops at society conferences, as part of professional development programs, and within ‘research week’ activities.

For 2015, Jonathan and I have been invited to present across many topics, around Australia. Here’s our speaking trail: RW live!

As well as being invited presenters at others’ events, Jonathan convened the first Whispercon, hosted by RMIT, in August this year. If you want to have a peek at what went on, here’s the Storify from Whispercon, and a post that Jonathan wrote afterwards, How the Whisper workshop works. The 2nd Whispercon is planned for Canberra in 2016.

The second thing that was notable about this WA trip is I got to meet Con face to face.  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 24/10/2015 in academia, blog, peeps


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Less blog, and moar blog

It’s ironic that I wrote a post about whether blogging could be a hobby for Research Whisperer, professed my love of blogging, and yet I haven’t posted here since mid-February!

The issue I discussed in the RW post was: if you’re blogging about work topics, and the blog profile adds to professional gravitas, can it actually be a hobby? Hobby implies something you do in your leisure time, not ‘work’. My lines were blurred, and have always been in academia. It’s a common problem.

The first thing I drop when I’m under the gun for other blog deadlines is this one. My personal and first blog.

I recently deleted a whole heap of posts from this blog. I had used this blog as a repository for AASRN-type info and updates for quite a few years, before the network developed into having its own identity and social media outlets. Even as I hit ‘delete’ on mass-selected posts, I was wondering whether I’d regret it.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on 14/04/2015 in blog, social media


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2 gigs in two weeks!

  1. Excited to be presenting a workshop on “Getting started on social media” for the AASRN with Tom Cho next Monday night (16 Feb 2015). It has already proven to be good fun and highly educational for me because I’ve never worked with Tom on this kind of thing before. We google-doc’d and Prezi’d together throughout the last week, and it was a very good experience.I’ve never used Prezi before – EVER – so learning about the new app was useful. I have had a few bad experiences with Prezi (that nausea everyone talks about) and wasn’t sure about it. Now that I’ve played with it a bit more, though, I think it has huge potential and people just need to rein in their enthusiasm about any given presentation’s visual mobility!We’re hoping that this session, focussed on helping Asian Australian communities to engage via social media, will be the first in a series of activist/lobbying/outreach events that will get Asian Australian research, topics, and debates out into the broader public sphere. These kinds of processes should also create conversations and further networks within Asian Australian groups that will generate more cultural and political activity. And, to me, this is always a good thing.
  2. The second gig is at ACMI in Federation Square and I’m chairing an amazing panel of Asian Australian creative talent. “Growing up Chinese in Australia” (TUES 24 Feb 2015) is part of the China Up Close festival, and features William Yang, Annette Shun Wah, Benjamin Law, and Juliana Qian. After the panel is the Melbourne premiere screening of Yang’s Blood Links. I have fan-girled these people for varying amounts of time, in different ways, and being able to participate in the event is just dreamy.



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Nhu “Ned” Kelly – P.M. Newton’s novels

oldschool beamsfallingI’d been wanting to read P.M. Newton’s The Old School for a very long time. Ever since it came out in 2010, actually.

My buddy, Rodney, who is quite the afficionado of Australian crime fiction, had mentioned it to me and I was immediately taken with the idea of a Vietnamese Australian detective in 1990s Sydney.

It took me till 2013 to read The Old School (thanks, @oanh_1)and I included it as part of my AWW 2013 listing. The impending publication of Newton’s second novel with the same lead character – Nhu “Ned” Kelly – spurred me to get a hold of the first. I inhaled the book, with its fast-paced narrative and tough, adeptly attuned characterisations. Then I eagerly awaited the second.

Beams Falling sat on a library shelf one weekend, tempting me with its new-bookish allure. I snatched it up immediately.



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PHOTO: There’s no going back to the Big Pineapple

A big pineapple of the past (photo by Tseen Khoo)

A big pineapple of the past (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

As kids, our family loved the Big Pineapple. We loved going there ourselves, and we took just about every single visitor there as well. Our photo albums are peppered with now-faded shots of various clan members. Complete with big sunglasses and perms. Everything about our trips there signalled excitement, visitors, and happy tension. Childhood’s salad days before we could see past the fibreglass and merchandising.

When I try to think about what it was exactly that we were drawn to, I’m left somewhat empty-handed. I remember the old advertisements on TV that featured ridiculously tall parfaits (that I never had) and the Macadamia Nut Train.

On a recent trip to Queensland, we stopped by the Big Pineapple for old times’ sake. To see it as it is today, and scotch the rumours that we’d all heard that it had been taken away.

It was there. The photo for this post was taken there in September 2014. Surrounding it were grassy, cracked car-parks, rundown novelty stalls, and overgrown pineapple patches. There was an odd little zoo further down the block. Everything felt a little defeated and sad.

We left thinking we didn’t need to go back to the Big Pineapple any more.


Posted by on 18/12/2014 in domestic, photo


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Where will I be?

I hadn’t counted on a hectic second semester after the hectic-ness of starting a new job in first semester, but it appears that’s what I’ve created!

As well as some exciting and somewhat daunting writing deadlines, I’ll be presenting at the following:

  • 1 October: Student workshop on communicating research through social media at the Australian Entomological Society’s 50th anniversary conference, Canberra.
  • 8 October: Webinar on ‘Getting savvy with your research audiences’ (with Jonathan O’Donnell) for the Australian Association of Gerontology/Emerging Researchers in Ageing.
  • 27 November: ‘Digital academic’ symposium convened by Deborah Lupton, Canberra.
  • 3 December: Breakfast talk for the Psych-Oncology co-operative research group (PoCoG), Melbourne.

This is, of course, on top of my day-job as a research education and development lecturer at an institution with multiple regional campuses. I’ll be travelling to two of the larger campuses over the next few months…two times each.

We’ve also got a holiday planned during one of the school holiday weeks in September, something I’m looking forward to with equal parts dread and longing. Dread because there is nothing worse – nothing – than going on holidays when everyone else and their dog is going on holidays. Longing because it’ll be fun, and away, and I won’t need to commute for a whole week!

I’ll be ready to put my feet up for a short time come 4 Dec. Just a short time, before I’ll have to let the increasing madness of the silly season in.


Posted by on 27/08/2014 in academia


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Mid-winter soup

Thai style wonton soup (Photo by asiansupper -

Thai style wonton soup (Photo by asiansupper –

This post isn’t about real soup. Let me get that out of the way. Won ton soup is one of my all-time favourites, though, so I thought I’d treat you to this delicious photo.

It’s a potentially messy round-up of recent things that have happened, seeing as I haven’t written anything since April.

Those of you who pay attention to everything I’m doing (yes, so many of you) will notice that everything old is new again. I’ve swapped back to the blog template that I was using a couple of years ago. It feels cosy, and I like it. It makes me think of chocolate.

This week’s been a good one for writing and profile satisfaction. When I’m blogging away after a day’s work, when the kids are asleep or on the weekend (such as now, on a Saturday night, at almost 11pm…), I often ask myself why. Not in the sense that I think it’s pointless, because I don’t, but whether I’m investing time in activities that are more obligatory than enjoyable.



Posted by on 26/07/2014 in academia, writing


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Placeholder Post

No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

No Little Birdies (Photo by Tseen Khoo)

Best intentions and all. Life’s totally overtaken my blogging schedule.

I started a new job at a new institution recently, and my new commute is 3 hours a day. While I thought this would mean OMG so much writing time, it has not come to pass. On a swaying bus, the best ‘work’ I can do is checking emails + tweeting from my various accounts (AASRN and Research Whisperer, mostly).

I’m keeping this here as a placeholder until things settle down. I’ve started dozens of posts, but never saw them through. Poised over the keyboard, thinking I needed to write something insightful and worthwhile shunting out into the world, I usually balk.

So, if you’re looking at this blog because you’ve found me via one of the hats I wear, here are some shortcuts for finding the kind of stuff you might be interested in:

Meanwhile, as I’ve been saying for about five years, I need to start shedding some roles…


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Kids’ books: Chicken Big (Keith Graves)

Chicken Big (Keith Graves) In our family compound, plans were afoot for a shared chicken house for a rather long time.

S. had been cutting steel and welding in between the school and kindy drop-offs for months. Finally, in September, four point-of-lay hens and four chicks came to roost.

In preparation for the chickens’ arrival, I’d bought Keith Graves’ Chicken Big when I spied it in a bookstore.

It sat for weeks in the cupboard. Things were moving slowly on the chicken palazzo front.

When we finally broke it out and read it to the kids, it was love at first sight: peals of laughter; reading it cover to cover repeatedly and literally (there are cartoons on the back cover); imitations of the characters over breakfast; and fragments of text as family code.

It is a book that’s a lot of fun. It’s a classic story about not belonging, and trying to find one’s community. Even if that community is kind of nuts, and thick, and…well, you have to read this book. I’m sniggering to myself just thinking about some of the phrasing and images.


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Posted by on 20/01/2014 in books, kiddiebooks


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