Lyddia Ruch-Doll – GWS Staff Spotlight


Name: Lyddia Ruch-Doll (Ruch rhymes with book)  

Pronouns: she/her (they/them also acceptable) 

Hometown: Sun Prairie, WI  

Position Title(s): Administrator, Gender & Women’s Studies, Center for Research on Gender and Women, and the UW-System Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium

How long have worked at GWS? Since September 2021! I’m pretty new to GWS, but I have been working for the UW since July of 2016. I was in the Department of Medical Physics in the School of Medicine and Public Health before this for a little over five years.

What is your role in the department? My role is split between the Center for Research on Gender & Women, the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium for the UW System. I handle similar things for all three, though – website maintenance, social media, event planning, honoraria, travel – but there are a couple things that are unique to each (CRGW’s Awards and Scholarships, for example).  

Lyddia holding coffee mug.

What do you like about working in GWS? So many things so far. My co-workers are incredible. They made me feel welcome right off the bat, and I love our daily chats and weekly staff meetings. We might all work in separate areas, but there’s a lot of collaboration that goes on between us, and I really love that in a work environment.  

The transparency here in GWS is really great too, I’ve never worked in an environment where people are consistent in their communication.  

Finally, I love working in a department that aligns so closely with my own values, that values creativity, is reasonably flexible, and also makes me feel appreciated as a whole person. It’s surprisingly rare, even in other academic departments. It’s so easy to forget to say thank you or give people shout outs for everything they do, even when it’s just a small thing, so being here where that’s a common practice has been uplifting.    

Educational/professional background: I spent a lot of time in Undergrad, partly because I couldn’t make up my mind, but I also just really liked taking classes. I did my first two years at UW-Milwaukee, and then went out to California to be closer to my family who moved out to Sonoma County right after I graduated high school. There I dabbled in a few things – psychology, art, languages, writing – at Santa Rosa Junior College for another two years.  

When I returned to Wisconsin, I spent two years working at Borders (RIP) and a natural foods store in Milwaukee, trying to decide if I wanted to go back to school and finish my (any) degree. In 2011 I took the plunge and applied to UW-Madison (specifically the School of Ed.) with the idea I would become a secondary ed. Social Studies teacher. 

That lasted all of one semester before I was back to my old tricks of taking whatever courses appealed to me, but by the end of three years I cobbled together an English – Creative Writing degree, an Undergraduate Thesis I was pretty proud of, and a wealth of diverse knowledge I could apply to… Walgreens.  

I had worked there all through my three years at UW-Madison and took a promotion upon graduating. Afraid of getting stuck there, I started applying anywhere and everywhere and by some miracle (and a very bad d ad joke) I landed a position in the Department of Medical Physics, where I stayed for five years.  

What books are on your nightstand? Currently, I’m working my way through the audiobook for Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. My mom and sister recently gave me access to their shared audiobook library, so I’m picking and choosing from their books (my nephew is really into Bigfoot, so there’s a lot of book son Cryptids in there right now), thankfully we have similar taste for the most part.  

I pretty much always have a romance novel waiting on my phone to read on the bus or in waiting rooms, and then something hardcover on my bed/nightstand for when I feel like I have the attention span. Right now, it’s The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling (I love a good paranormal romance, but especially one with LGBTQ+ characters when I can get my hands on one). 

Do you have any media recommendations to share? For reading, I love anything and everything I’ve read by Sarah Gailey. Most recently I read When We Were Magic – very fun and slightly disturbing story of magic, friendship, love, and murder.  

A favorite podcast of mine is Unwell, a Midwestern Gothic Mystery produced by  HartLife NFP. It takes place in a fictional town in Ohio, features BIPOC and LGBTQ+ (main!) characters, deals with family and mental health issues, but has enough humor to keep it light when it needs to be. It’s delightfully creepy and intriguing, and the fictional Mt. Absalom has that slightly quirky, Midwestern small town quality, so anyone who grew up this part of the country should feel right at home, but it’s definitely not a requirement to listen. 

What are your hobbies or interests? Cooking is one of my favorite things to do! I love cooking for other people, especially, but the pandemic has limited my ability to do so. Lately I’ve been getting into learning different folk remedies and which herbs, spices, and flowers to add to my usual repertoire of recipes to help with common ailments (digestive problems, aches and pains, etc.), and my roommate is often the (un)fortunate guinea pig in this experimentation.  Lyddia with her cat.

My other big hobby is writing. Together, my roommate and I are co-authoring a series of paranormal romance/urban fantasy novels. It’s great writing together because we have different strengths and weaknesses as writers, so we really feed off of, and learn from one another. Not sure if we’ll ever get it together to publish anything – we both hate editing – but we’ve got tons of material, just writing the books we’d want to read.  

Other than that, I love nature walks, photography, thrift shopping, checking out new restaurants (especially with outdoor seating, weather permitting, so I can people watch), drawing, and cat naps with our two cats (Flapjack and Vala).