Sunday, September 28, 2014

But Wait . . . I’m Still an Astronomer

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post; I am back in Chile, and there is a lot to discuss. But I’ll save you from the majority of it.

In September, I spent two weeks visiting Yale, which is a great place for astronomy. The department there is a good size, and there are always events to attend - talks, journal clubs, student/post-doc workshops, etc. This is pretty different from my previous experience at universities that had smaller departments. There is just a better sense of community once you get a department beyond some critical size.

The department also has a very positive attitude in regards to the academic culture. For me, the attitude of the community makes a world of difference. When I was a first-year graduate student I was surrounded by a lot of negativity. That continued into my second, and third year. It has taken me a very long time to work out of that. Having a more positive attitude about academia and astronomy gives me more motivation to keep working on things. It's a feeling I get when I attend astronomy meetings/conferences. And I’m pleased to report that I’m working on revising a paper that, hopefully, will get accepted for publication soon.

Also in the past month, I’ve had an undergraduate from UdeC emailing me requesting to work with me. I was hesitant at first, because I haven’t been sure where I would be in the near future. I decided to give him some reading, and now I am actually excited about giving him a project. We met in-person last week, and he said he wanted to work on some data. I think I have a mental sketch of a decent undergraduate project where he will get some experience and learn something useful. But now that I’ve taken him on as a student, it means more work and responsibility for me. This is all a good thing, because it means I continue to progress in my career.

I also had a conversation with my current faculty sponsor. We decided that it might make sense for me to apply to some faculty positions in order to help solve the Two-Body Problem. This is going to be very interesting; I’ve never applied to a faculty position before. After thinking about it for a couple days, I’ve convinced myself that I would make a good candidate, and I hope that my application(s) will reflect that.

For a while I have been pretty conflicted about how and where I might continue in my professional career. But since attending the data science workshop in August (a very positive experience) and since visiting Yale for another two weeks (another positive experience), I am a little less worried about where I may end up. I feel a renewed attitude, and I expect that whatever job/career opportunities arise will be rewarding.

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