.    .

  = Blogroll = Crooked Timber
Am. Constitution Society
See Jane Compute
The Valve
Scientific Activist
Academic Secret

about this page
This page was constructed using the lovely patterns developed by the extremely talented Squidfingers. Some of the patterns have been modified.

All content on this page is the property of the author and is not to be reproduced without express permission from the author.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Baby steps

Now that I've been away for a few days, I'm starting to be able to work again. This is good, although I worry that it will be too little, too late. But I'm getting things done, and I'm going to focus on that.

So, status:
Project I (CC): 70% and holding
Project II (GC-mf): 50% and moving
Project III (GC2-sc): 2%
Project IV (CoC): 30% and holding
Project V (MC-UG): 2% and moving
Project VI (CC-UG): 2% and moving

Proposal I: 5% and holding (Due Mar 2007)
Proposal II: 0% and holding

Current activity: Project II (GC)

These are just the research parts of each project -- after this comes the writing. And the proposal writing, and course preparation. And general panic. But for now, Project II is moving!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Internecine Squabbling, and Days Off

I'm starting to learn how to rest -- although I attribute this mostly to having caught a ridiculous cold, which means that I can't do much of anything (even read trashy novels) for more than a couple of minutes. But getting some time to let my brain recover isn't a bad thing. So, for the last three days I've done pretty much nothing (other than some cooking -- reintroducing vegetables to my family). The fourth day I spent travelling, and there's really no way to make that restful, particularly given that it came on the heels of The Day From Hell, which brings me to the next part of my story.

The culmination of all of my hours and hours of service, of the sacrifice of my time for the greater good of the department, has been simply the realization that I will never be able to get tenure in my current department. I suppose that it's good that I learned this now, rather than later, but it is a thorougly demoralizing realization. I'm not sure that I wanted to stay there (in fact, I think I'd been leaning heavily the other way), but I did think that the decision would be mine, that my "colleagues" would respect the impact of my work. I no longer think so.

I work in a traditional subdiscipline, although one which is extremely underrepresented at my current institution, and in the course of the rather heated discussion the reasons for the imbalance became very clear. It is underrepresented because the faculty as a whole do not understand it, and they -- out of what I can only assume is a misguided attempt to salvage some self-respect -- dismiss anything they do not understand (and this is a large, and established, area of science). Since they do not value it, they do not nurture it, and the rash of departures of my predecessors is easily explained. In addition to not nurturing it, they actively ridicule and belittle it, and while I can comfort myself a little by reflecting on how backwards and, well, dumb, this makes them look, the fact is that they have the power here to block my tenure appointment, regardless of the caliber of my work. This is not a cheering realization. It also makes it harder to get up every day and work overwhelming hours, because while I love the work, it's very hard to exist in a vacuum.

In the midst of what must rate as one of the more fraught faculty meetings ever, I am very proud of my handling of the situtation. I did not come out and call anyone stupid (although it was a close thing), and I did manage to convey that I was unimpressed. And, I suppose most importantly, I was able to remain professional in the face of some really awful comments. I threw my tantrum after the meeting, not during. I've asked myself repeatedly in the days following whether this was wise, or whether I should have made the strength of my feelings more clear. But on the whole, I think I did very well by staying calm. And probably won more support from other corners by doing so -- which will help me when I look for jobs next year, a course of action I now see as ineveitable.

This means that my days of departmental service are over. I will not be the go-to-girl anymore, not for anything, because I can't take it with me. I will sacrifice everything for my research -- service and teaching -- because I need to be looking out for myself, since my department isn't looking out for me. I guess this makes me a maverick, once again. I think this is sad, since I was getting ready to settle down with the rest of the herd, but it's back to what I do best.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I'm drowning in departmental service right now. It's never-ending.

The saddest part of that is that it won't do me any good for tenure. As one of the few women in my department, I tend to wind up doing more committee work than other people. I think this is due mostly to my difficulty in saying no to things. I have trouble not doing something that I know I can do better than others.

But, my contract is supposedly 60% research, 40% teaching. No service listed there. The word on the street is that service is a maximum of about 10% for tenure. My read on the situation is that the 10% comes out of the teaching side. So that is not going to help me. The research will help me, but how do I find time to do it? I'm so busy putting out fires that there's very little time to set aside for anything else. This frustrates me -- all these great ideas, just going to waste (or flying off to be had by somebody other than me!).

A friend told me awhile back that we had 6 years for tenure so that we had time to learn how to schedule; she might be right. But what I need to learn is how to say "no!" and stick to it.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I have a new student in my group! A smart, motivated, sassy young woman who will fit right in. I'm so excited.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Job searches suck from either side!

This is the great realization from this week.

A few years ago, when I was on the market, I lamented at length the strenuousness of the process. Putting together a strong application packet is a lot of work -- and it should be. Good proposals are not just hard to come up with, they are hard to write. Cover letters are some sort of black magic. And then, there's the interview circuit. The overwhelming feeling of being under a microscope at all times, of giving the same talks over and over again and suddenly drowning in deja vue. And after all of that, the petty negotiating over startup costs, and finally the my-god-what-have-I-done panic.

Now, a bit down the road, I'm the associate chair on our current search committee, and we're filling multiple positions. I've read nearly 150 applications in the last weeks, and I thought that was hard. It turns out, coping (as a committee leader, and our subdiscipline head) with the interviewing is even worse. I haven't had time to do my own research in weeks (although there was an amazingly blissful interlude recently, see below).

I learned an amazing amount about the process, and some of the things I believed as I went through as a candidate have been validated, others not. The biggest thing I've learned is that the cover letter is the single most important part of the packet -- because in a field of 150, you have to make the first cut, and if the cover letter doesn't scream "this is a great, detailed, careful, insightful, and brilliant person," I'm going on to the next candidate. My time is too valuable, too over-committed right now, to spend on anyone who can't make a good first impression.

But now, the interviews have started. Wow, the hours of shepherding from meeting to meeting, of checking and rechecking itenaries, of browbeating lazier (or, conceivably, savier) other faculty into signing up, of holding one's breath, waiting for the goofball member to say something either stupid or offensive (usually the latter, or a combination of the two). And the candidates -- some are as good as their packets suggested. Others -- Oh. My. God. Some hints -- don't contradict members of the faculty during your proposal talk, especially if you have to say "I've been doing X for several years now" (as though that'll clinch it) to somebody who can (and will) reply "Well, I've been doing it for 25." You lose that one, no matter what. Oh, and don't get drunk. If you can't hold your alcohol, don't drink it.

I can't wait for this to be over. I especially can't wait for it to be over and to have landed a couple of really spectacular new faculty members! If I live that long. Sheesh.

Location: Currently, Berkeley, United States

I'm an academic scientist who is both abroad and a broad. I am on the road so often that I have a house solely so that my cats will have somewhere to live.

Okay, fine. If you really really want to, and don't care how long it is between mail checks, you can send email to ascientistabroad  {a}gmail{dot}com

And, okay, sometimes there are comments. But it's my blog and I'll delete anything I want.

Recent Posts

Previously on Buffy ...

Powered by Blogger