10 Quirky Academic Gift Ideas

With the season of shopping and consumerism now upon us, we’ve started thinking about gifts that will satisfy and delight the academics in our lives. You may like to pick up the odd thing for your colleagues, or send this list to friends and family who don’t know what to get for you!

10. Lab Wars

A card game in which you become a renowned scientist by maxing out your lab and bringing down your competitors. If you’ve ever wanted to be ruthless in your career but were held back by, y’know, being a nice person, this game will be your catharsis.

9. Lady Macbeth’s guest soap

The Shakespearean scholar in your life will relish the chance to get those damned spots out. I especially love their slogan: try it in the Macbath!

8. Science themed pins and zines

The folks at Two Photon Art create beautiful and affordable jewellery that lets you proudly pin a neuron, a virus, or a brain to your lapel. They also publish science-themed zines – perfect for a little light summer reading.

7. Academia Obscura

This book by PhD student Glen Wright claims to reveal “the hidden silly side of academia.” I was sold as soon as I saw the section entitled “A passage regarding succinctness and the exigencies of proactively counteracting sesquipedalianism in academic composition.”

6. Fashion-forward lab coats

Yes, they do exist. I was as surprised as you probably are right now.

5. Mathematical t-shirts

The internet is full of t-shirts for those with a numerically geeky side. Many joke about how they became mathematicians for the free pi; but my favourite is the shirt that reminds us that “Friends don’t let friends derive drunk.”

4. Witty coffee mugs

A team called Academically Minded has a CafePress site full of witty academic slogans printed on stuff. My favourites are the mugs with one-liners like “Plays well with other people’s data” and “You say fatal flaw, I say methodologically innovative.”

3. Cheese degrees

If you love design, angles, and cheese (and honestly, which of us doesn’t sit in the intersection of that particular triple Venn diagram?) then you’ll love this cheese degrees chopping board from Present Indicative.

2. Puzzles based on great minds

These sets of 5 small wood and metal puzzles are based on designs by some of history’s great thinkers. Great for office desks and nervous tinkering during writing breaks.

1. A long black fluffy robe

It may not technically be academic regalia, but a long black fluffy dressing gown can give you that covetable graduation day feeling when you’re lounging around at home with a half-finished thesis.

About Anaise Irvine

Dr Anaise Irvine is the Editor of Thesislink and leads the Researcher Education and Development team at Auckland University of Technology. Her PhD research analysed how contemporary films and novels represent genetic engineering as a social justice issue. These days she works with researchers at all levels to improve their research skills, and the most obscure of her own research skills is being able to turn novels into phylogenetic trees!

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