Another Issue with Peer Review

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

I’ve written in the past about peer review (and links therein), particularly my annoyances with how some referees don’t seem to be constructive about it, and in fact can be condescending assholes.  I made my suggestions about improving it while keeping it anonymous.  Another option is to remove anonymity, which I think does have drawbacks, […]

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The Big Bang Crisis?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

I don’t think so…but it’s a classic lesson in how not to get into grad school. I recently had an exchange with a student who queried me about why they had not been admitted into our graduate program. I won’t name names, or say where they were from, or their gender, and I won’t quote […]

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The Importance of, and How to Choose, a Mentor

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Academia and writing are two systems where mentors are still common, something like the old system of Apprentice/Journeyman/Master. I think in nearly every field of individual excellence that requires serious expertise, you’ll find mentors.  Tiger Wood’s had his dad teaching him golf.  The Polgar sisters had rigorous chess coaching.  Every scientist these days has or […]

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The Importance of Grad Students

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

While I guess I always feel busy and sometimes overwhelmed, I’m usually getting more done than I think and it’s often worthwhile.  I spent a lot of time running on Sunday (18 miles), and much of my time Friday and Saturday was spent with prospective graduate students. Most PhD programs make acceptances of graduate students […]

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Negotiating an Academic Job Offer

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

I’ve written about applying for jobs and given some tips about on-campus interviews.   I wanted to give some brief advice about what to do when you actually get a tenure-track job offer.   My advice will be pretty general, but with a few more specific things for science jobs like astronomy. First, celebrate.   It’s hard to […]

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Losing (some) Faith in Science, but it still Beats the Alternatives

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

In my second or third year of graduate school, I went through a period of depression of several months after realizing that the Ivory Tower was pretty dirty, even in a field of pure research like astronomy.   I was starting to see how politics and power interfered with my ideal of how science, especially a […]

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Nine Tips for Success on the On-Campus Interview for Faculty Jobs

Friday, December 10th, 2010

I recently posted some thoughts and advice for landing a faculty job.   I didn’t mention much about what to do, and not do, on the actual live interview short-listed candidates get.   I’ll try to stay general, but my expertise is based on experiences on both sides of the process in the field of astronomy and […]

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Thoughts and Advice about Landing Faculty Jobs in Astronomy

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

We’re in what I hope is the home stretch of a faculty search for a tenure-track astronomer to join our Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Wyoming.   I probably should have posted something a couple of weeks ago after the first couple stages of the process were complete, or wait until it’s […]

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Academic Careers and the “Two-Body Problem”

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

In physics, the two-body problem, two objects moving under mutual gravitational attraction, is solved analytically and completely.   No uncertainties.   Simple.   Undergraduates in upper-level mechanics do it all the time. In pursuing a career in academia, and going on my experiences in astronomy, the two-body problem that is much more challenging is having a relationship or […]

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College Professor, One of the Top Ten Jobs?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

So as is not unusual at any time, and especially not at a time when unemployment is up, I came across one of those articles about what are the best jobs out there today.   Here is there list: 1. Systems Engineer 2. Physician Assistant 3. College Professor 4. Nurse Practitioner 5. Information Technology Project Manager […]

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A Professor’s Thoughts on Grading

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I’ve never been a big fan of being graded or grading others.   Ideally we should all learn for the sake of learning, but I have to admit that grading, from a number to a letter to a gold star can be a stupid but effect motivator.   Moreover, the grades are used by admissions committees for […]

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