Ruxandra’s Bio:

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Rux is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue University. She has conducted research with farmers in Mexico, the Peruvian Andes, and the United states. She specifically looked at how climate change affects farming practices, and at what factors motivate people to adopt environmentally-friendly behaviors and technologies. In this episode, she shares the challenges she overcame during her PhD, and how these challenges made her a better researcher.
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00:00 Sean introduces Ruxandra Popavici, a Duke scholar, and they open with a discussion about the challenges of working in this new, virtual world in the field of education. With this new concept of working remotely, worry is expressed for current and future generations learning in disconnected, isolated environments. She also explains the process of meeting with a professor playing the role of an advisor who mentors students trying to acquire their PhD.

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03:00 Ruxandra expresses the crisis she faced in the midst of trying to get her PhD and the confusion and lack of motivation she battled to complete her work. The committee of advisors that were her oversight sensed her struggles and deemed her inadequate for the program. She felt that the more she kept trying, the more her work was rejected, and some professors displayed a bizarre amount of disinterest in helping her or even communicating with her at all. She felt that her world was crumbling apart because she was told her work was never good enough, while going through a separation with her ex-husband at the same time.

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06:30 She is a social scientist, and at Duke she traveled the world researching and interviewing forest owners. She recounts evaluating government programs that were attempting to conserve forests in Mexico. Ruxandra adds that emphasizing creativity in certain research fields can be a catch-22 when there’s only so much you can do to set your work apart from similar studies already done in the past. She does however come up with something original enough to earn her dissertation.

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11:10 Sean makes an inquiry about conflicts of interest, government grants in the medical field, patenting new discoveries, and that tax-payers are the ones funding the research. He uses Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates as prime examples of influence when it comes to Covid vaccines. Ruxandra gives valuable advice about publishing, the pressure it can cause, and outdated research that eventually becomes obsolete. Sean shares his frustration with two students in the Social Justice Field who fabricated a mockery of a story and ended up getting published in a legitimate journal, after publicly stating the whole thing was a joke.

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17:10 Ruxandra reveals the lack of incentive editors receieve when they review papers and how regular people with no credentials can be chosen for this job. She also reflects on how she went from a well-reknowned student to hitting rock bottom and offers tips to listeners. People won’t take you seriously unless you have a clear vision about what you’re doing. She replays many instances early on when she lacked focus, made some wrong decisions, and how she fine-tuned her brain towards success.

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25:00 For the conservation of nature in Mexico, are government programs operating alone more effective than a government partnering with a non-profit organization? Ruxandra elaborates on this topic in-depth, sequentially earning her her PhD. Sean ties in the cartel and avocado farming. Ruxandra portrays the great lengths of precaution she had to take in order to perform her work whilst steering clear of the cartel.

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31:20 Sean lightheartedly jokes about how sheltered he is and the only thing he’s experienced is prison. He recalls a close friend who went through a similar dangerous situation as Ruxandra. El Chapo gets referenced and as a result of his incarceration the cartel has gotten very disorganized, subsequently leading them to commit more small-scale crimes. However, both agree that the decentralization of the cartel makes them even scarier.

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38:30 Sean talks about his wild experiences he had when visiting Cabo and some of the questionable decisions he made that could’ve landed him on “Locked Up Abroad.” He realizes he got lucky and being a tourist in any foreign country is not a safe decision for him. Sean’s never even considered going to Canada but acknowledges he has a lot of listeners there.

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41:30 Sean and Ruxandra express their enjoyment having this conversation and hint at a potential future discussion. Sean references hormones and oxytocin. Ruxandra says she plans to transition from researcher to making her own jewelry business and writing on topics like inner beauty.

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Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/ruxandra333/

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Show Notes Writer: Robert Trimpert
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