That's the sound of the train on the tenure track approaching one of its final stops! So today I was informed by the chair of my department that he presented my case to the university tenure committee, and they informed him later that afternoon that my tenure case was approved unanimously! From here my case needs to be approved by the provost and ultimately the university's corporation, but the big hurdle is usually the university committee, and they said yes. Woohoo!! So for now I think it's safe to say I can start thinking about what I want to do with tenure. Based on today's post by a fellow blogger, let the crazy experiments begin!
For the rest of you, I'll leave you with James Brown and the Night Train:
Recently a former postdoc of mine was offered a nice tenure track faculty position. In talking with her about negotiating startup packages, teaching load, etc. she mentioned an interesting conversation she had with her normally very supportive PhD advisor. Her PhD advisor told her that she would be happy to write her letters of recommendation for her job applications (and she does write her good ones), but that frankly, at her age it was going to be very unlikely she would ever get an offer. Of course she did get an offer, and her former advisor's comment really surprised me, especially since she (the advisor) is someone I respect and has given me good career advice in the past.
My former postdoc had a long break (about 10 years) between college and starting her PhD, doing a series of activities, some related and some unrelated to science. She had a very productive PhD and a very productive postdoc in my lab. She then did a short second postdoc where she got another paper (and one on the way) before applying for jobs. She didn't take particularly long to finish her PhD and her postdocs. In this case, it seems like evidence of continued productivity is what matters, not actual age. I know at least a couple of other people who started their faculty positions in their 40's and age was never an issue. I've been through several job searches in my department and age has never been discussed.
I wonder how much people here think age is a factor in landing a tenure track job? Has anyone come across this before? For those who have faculty jobs, how old were you when you landed your first faculty job? Does this perception affect women more than men? Discuss!
I've always been interested in alternative methods of communication and dissemination of information. When I was a kid I was always into making pamphlets which could be reproduced and handed out. I lusted over mimeograph machines and photocopiers and used up scads of carbon paper to make my little pamphlets. Later when I got a computer and dot-matrix printer things got easier, but not quite as fun. Obviously now with the web, anyone can easily shoot out as much information as they want to an unlimited audience. One of my interests is how to use these tools, in my case in the form of a blog, to disseminate scientific and other information. While some of these newer media I think are effective (like science blogs), other I think have a more limited usefulness (see recent discussion about social media and science). But today, I wanted to introduce a decidedly old school way of disseminating and communicating science.
Recently I came across the website of the Small Science Collective. The site is maintained by Andrew Yang at the Art Institute of Chicago and hosts a collection of contributed small science 'zines which you can download, print, fold and distribute. For those of you who don't know, a zine is a self-published work which is typically reproduced by photocopier and is locally circulated. Sort of like a home-made magazine. Anyway, the zines in in the Small Science Collective are designed to fit in one printed page and then folded to make a small little pamphlet. They encompass a broad variety of science topics ranging from pigeons, to fly genetics, to evolution, to the digestive system, to ants, to genetically-modified foods. Most of them are hand-drawn and submitted by random folks, and are really cool. The idea is that you pick some of the ones you like, print and copy them, fold them and just randomly leave them in public places, such as coffee shops, bus stops, whatever. Also, you can make and submit your own science zine to the site (here are instructions on how to make one).
I just think this is such a great idea. It seems like it would be a lot of fun to make one and even more fun and informative to randomly find one. Maybe we should have a Scientopia zine event, where bloggers and readers pull out their paper and pencils (or whatever your favorite artistic medium is) and we should design zines on our favorite scientific topics. Bloggers could even take their favorite posts and turn them into zine form. In any case, take a look at the Small Science Collective I'm sure you'll find it cool.