Saturday, September 1, 2012

The PhD Movie: A film adapted from Piled Higher & Deeper

By: Stephanie Prosack
       ACS, Education Assistant

The 244th ACS National Meeting has come and gone! Can you believe it? One of my favorite activities was viewing Jorge Cham’s movie, The PhD Movie, adapted from his well-loved comic strip, Piled Higher & Deeper.

As depicted in the comic strip, The PhD Movie follows the characters—in human form—who we have come to love: Cecilia, Mike, Tajel and someone we assume to portray Jorge. All combat many of the same encounters and obstacles commonly faced by graduate students in the real world: nonstop
research, disinterested and ungrateful professors, and lack of personal growth. The moral of the movie is to keep pursuing your dreams and passions. Wise words to follow, yes?

Although the acting is mediocre, at best, one of the coolest aspects of the movie—witty and entertaining—is the fact that it is acted and directed by graduate students. (Let’s give them a break! It’s not their day job!) Written and produced by Jorge, the director is a graduate student in aeronautics, and the actors are students in different sciences, too! Most are graduate students, except for the actor who portrays Jorge’s character; he is an undergrad. Jorge Cham even makes a few guest appearances; they’re discreet and short, so you may want to keep a close eye out for the author.

After the screening, Jorge Cham joined us via teleconference. He explained how he began the comic
strip as a stress-relieving outlet and way to procrastinate during his graduate school days at CalTech. In this discussion, Jorge took time to discuss the personalities of the four main characters, Cecilia, Mike,Tajel and Jorge. Interestingly, he said he often receives comments from people commenting on Cecilia’s attractiveness, but she is Jorge’s cartoon character, so people shouldn’t get too comfortable with her! Jorge finished the teleconference by highlighting the importance of Piled Higher & Deeper: to help graduate students felt less alone through the storm, and of course, encourage procrastination.

If you missed the movie screening at the ACS National Meeting or want to watch it again, you can
stream the movie here for a fee. The PhD Movie is also able to be screened at institutions after approval
from staff. This would be perfect way to honor Jorge Cham by procrastinating.

Did you see the The PhD Movie? We want to hear your thoughts! Share!

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