Gutsy Women: Diane Rasmussen McAdie

As an American born in Michigan—and also previously based in Texas, in North Carolina, and in Ontario, Canada—Professor Diane Rasmussen McAdie BA MS PhD FHEA FRSA took the bold step of applying for a university academic post in Scotland. Perhaps a little to her surprise, she was invited for an interview, and she says that it was with some trepidation that she boarded a flight to travel to a strange country within the British Isles that she knew little about. Nevertheless, she took the plunge and she was duly rewarded with the offer of a Lecturer post at the University of Strathclyde in the academic specialist area of Library and Information Sciences. Her life-changing journey had started.

More recently, Diane has been Professor of Social Informatics in the School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment (SCEBE) at Edinburgh Napier University, and she is also Director of Edinburgh Napier’s Social Informatics Research Group. Diane’s research now centres around social informatics, which examines broadly the relationships among people, society, information, and technology. Her current specific areas of focus are ethical cataloguing, non-textual metadata, social media, and online health information provision. She has edited two books—Social media for academics: A practical guide and Indexing and retrieval of non-text informationand she co-edited Social tagging in a linked data environment. She has delivered over 150 peer-reviewed/invited presentations, and she has published more than 40 articles in highly-ranked information science journals.

Progressing her formal and informal research work, and searching for answers concerning Covid–19 and the associated lockdowns, Diane was to meet John McAdie, another UK Column viewer, in the UK Column online chat room. The resulting ‘socially distanced’ communication quickly led to direct social meetings and the exchange of their respective thoughts and views on the turbulence of the world around them. The pair’s dialogue also revealed a strong personal understanding and bond between them. They later married in Edinburgh and invited the UK Column team to their wedding.

Against the background of this fairytale of new countries, professional development and romance, Diane was also to experience the darker pressures and damage that Covid–19 regulations and lockdown caused her students. Isolated in their cramped accommodation, many succumbed to anxiety and depression, conditions for which Diane was untrained and therefore unable to provide the necessary assistance. Nevertheless, she felt for them and spoke out for them, questioning vaccination and lockdown rules that she considered a breach of their personal freedoms and her own. Her reward was professional warnings, isolation and mockery, coupled with attacks on her right to express lawfully her opinions on social media and elsewhere.

Join us to hear how this gutsy woman, one of a series, refused to be intimidated and stood up to challenge the contemporary academic system of control.