Thursday, September 20, 2012

3 years 11 months and 11 days

"Like a Tree With the Passage of Time" 
That's the motto of my undergrad alma mater. That's where it all began. 
I now find myself back in that same city ready for a new start. 

I can now reveal to you that my stated purpose when I began this blog has now been achieved. As of December 1st, 2012, I will be an Assistant Professor, tenure track, at York University. Thus my time in postdoc purgatory will come in just shy of four years. Somehow it feels like it was much longer. Certainly, the period was a not a great one for my mental state. However, if you deal well with uncertainty you probably would manage better than I did.

In particular, I had the issue of not really knowing where I fit in an academic department. What is a planetary scientist? Is that an astronomer who stays close to home? A geologist who travels far? Or maybe an engineer who gets their inspiration by looking beyond their machines? Really it's all of these things and yet none of them exclusively. That's a problem for many traditional departments. But now the market has spoken and its answer in my case is loud and clear - I'm a Renaissance Space Engineer. I couldn't be more excited to join the talented group that will help create the Lassonde School - how often, as an academic, do you get to contribute to build something novel at the organizational level?

I'll have more to say about Lassonde later, but given that some of you may actually be reading this record to figure out how you yourself can proceed from PhD to something permanent, I'll distill (as best I can) my advice on what worked for me below, under the cut. As always your mileage may vary and in a very real sense, given the balkanization of science and engineering, my case may not be applicable to yours.