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Designing Your Academic Career (some tips and scenarios*) Zoya Popovic Hudson Moore Jr. Professor Electrical, Computer a PowerPoint Presentation
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Designing Your Academic Career (some tips and scenarios*) Zoya Popovic Hudson Moore Jr. Professor Electrical, Computer a

Designing Your Academic Career (some tips and scenarios*) Zoya Popovic Hudson Moore Jr. Professor Electrical, Computer a

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Designing Your Academic Career (some tips and scenarios*) Zoya Popovic Hudson Moore Jr. Professor Electrical, Computer a

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  1. Designing Your Academic Career (some tips and scenarios*) Zoya Popovic Hudson Moore Jr. Professor Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering University of Colorado, Boulder *assuming this career is that of a university professor at an institution that values both research and teaching

  2. Find good grad students Do project reviews and reports Advise Come up with new ideas Teach Do research Write papers Family? Make sure old ideas work Review papers Watch for things to do to help your department, college etc. Get funding Be fiscally responsible Serve on committees you believe in The Job… Multiplex

  3. Another one? Have a kid? When do you do what? – Possible Trajectory (years 1 and 2) etc. etc. etc. Limited service (2nd year) Teach undergraduate course (2nd year) Publish papers (start during 1st summer) Form a research group, group meetings… Write proposals (year and summer) Recruit first students (2nd semester) Get new ideas (while teaching) Teach a graduate course (1st semester)

  4. Your department – fitting in • Learn about your department – who are the highest quality faculty? Pick role models and observe them. How do they prioritize the tasks? • Work with one or more of the faculty you admire (do not have to be in your field, nor does the work have to be research). Find out what you admire about them and how you can adapt it to yourself. • Goal: get well-respected faculty to know you well so they can speak up for you in 3-4 years

  5. Your department – fitting in • Committees: damage control • Choose (2nd year) one committee you believe in and do a good job at it (your colleagues will value it and become advocates for your promotion) • Promises, promises… • Put any agreements made with your chair or group in MOUs (e.g. if you are teaching extra, do an extra committee, etc.). Chairs change… • Mentoring: a resource • Talk to your mentors often. • They are busy – you have to seek them out.

  6. What should I get from a mentor? • - Help me in establishing guidelines for “calibration” – how good am I compared to my peers? • Help me in prioritizing tasks in the first few years • Help me make contacts at funding agencies • Give me teaching advice, attend my lectures occasionally • - Help me establish/modify “career trajectory” • - Teach me how to establish a career with the help of the system, and • Teach me how to pay back to the system when I am ready. • Get free coffee • Some notes: • Your mentor is busy (if he/she is the right mentor) – you need to seek him/her out. • Do not expect mentors to worry about you too much – they hired you and think you are great. It is not obvious to them where you need help. • Do not be shy – in general they are happy to help.

  7. Some topics that might be of interest: Different modes of research funding • DoD (ARL, ONR, ARO vs. DARPA) - cultivating a relationship with a program manager - proposing the right amount of work and funding • NSF - serving on panels - large opportunities • NIH – something different (find a doctor) • Industry: short term • Centers • Collaborations (e.g. MURIs) • Fellowships (DoEd, companies, labs, private)

  8. It is helpful to know how to draw antenna beams all over the place… (taken from DARPA home page, first image that shows up)

  9. Some topics that might be of interest: Proposal Tips – how to not “dry up” • write proposals for which you have preliminary results – credibility • submit many proposals in your first year (you want as much feedback as possible, and you will never again have as much time to write proposals) • do not promise what you definitely cannot do, but always stretch your desires and abilities - be realistic but ambitious • spend a lot of time learning about prior work - reference everyone in the field (and their grandmothers) • write interdisciplinary or collaborative proposals, especially if you are an experimentalist - keep learning new things • be well informed of opportunities, try to meet contract people, travel to Washington or wherever it takes - expect to spend time and $ to get more $ - invest • make sure your projects are good theses - our primary mission is education and people with $ know it (at least the ones you want to work with do)

  10. Some topics that might be of interest: Cultivating a Research Group How to recruit best possible graduate students? –Do not be stingy with recruitment – this is the best investment you will ever make. How to set high expectations and make them clear? - have a one-to-one honest talk with each of your students once per month about their professionalism, their goals and their work ethics. How to keep an eye on students without being a burden? – this is tricky. I am not sure how to formulate it, but you need to be stealthy. The danger is that then the students think you do not know what they are doing, but it is easy to surprise them occasionally and show them who is “the boss”.

  11. Some topics that might be of interest: Cultivating a Research Group • There is no unique “recipe”, BUT the following are useful things to do: • recruit best possible 1st and 2nd graduate student – seed • invest a lot of time in your first students - educate co-advisors • like and respect your graduate students - they are your family at work and will be your collaborators and/or competitors later • set high expectations - good graduate students like them and need them - make expectations very clear • be careful about choosing new group members - make sure they are “approved” by the rest of the group - keep friendly and professional environment in the group

  12. Some topics that might be of interest: Cultivating a Research Group • How do you give your graduate students true responsibilities? • - Make them in charge of a part of the lab (or equivalent if you are a theoretician). • This means they get authority along with responsibility • Give them some funds (e.g. money for connectors) and make them fiscally responsible • How do you reward your graduate students? • - praise in front of their peers • trips to conferences • field trips • book gifts • take them out to lunch • coffee certificates really work!

  13. Electromagnetics group in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, February 2004 Zoya’s group in Socorro, NM, VLA visit, April 2005

  14. This can be really fun for you too – but it does take some planning and extra work. Climbing the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, 2005 Zoya’s group in Socorro, NM, VLA visit, April 2005

  15. you Grad student Graduation date - thesis defense - The “graduation date” universal law Knowledge (and/or learning ability) time

  16. Some topics that might be of interest: Writing papers, etc. How many papers should you publish? – it depends on your field – ask your closest colleague what is a prolific rate. Remember that quality is important – read some award-winning papers for “calibration”. Where should you publish? - it is important to publish in the best possible journal in your field. Conference papers are also good if you can prove it is a high quality conference with strict standards (low acceptance rate and archived long paper that follows). Should you agree to write a textbook? – in general, no. This is a lot of work with low payoff. Save that for later in your career. My experience is that this is a huge effort that is not rewarded accordingly. Should you agree to edit a book or contribute a chapter? – in general, yes.

  17. Some topics that might be of interest: Writing papers, etc. • Common mistake I have noticed: • faculty procrastinate writing papers (really?) • One possible solution: • Give your students a condition for graduation in terms of number of papers. • Make it clear to them how long it takes a paper to come out. • Immediately task them to compile a comprehensive bibliography in the topic. • Before the work is even completed, make a paper outline with your student(s) and have this guide their work. • Use independent study students for prep bibliography work.

  18. Some topics that might be of interest: Being a good teacher There is no unique “recipe”, BUT • Respect and like your students, do not underestimate their intelligence and encourage them to ask questions • Make sure the students respect (and like) you because they are convinced you know your field well • Do not teach a class too many times in a row; make sure you are learning at least a little during each class • Use resources available on campus • Observe several faculty who are known to be good teachers; get copies of their syllabi, web pages etc. • Keep learning how to teach – very few people are born as good teachers • Keep in mind that you are making an impact each time you teach

  19. Some “rules” I have found helpful • respect your colleagues - they are as good or better than you • respect your graduate students - they will be better than you if you do a good job training choosing them and training them • respect undergraduates - they are the “customer” and our future • be on time for meetings - your colleagues’ time is as valuable as yours • when you agree to be on a committee, do a good job • keep committee meetings to 1 hour • do not keep research meetings to 1 hour • the place you work at is home for more hours per day then your home, so work on making it better • do not think about retirement • occasionally do a “calibration” - how are you doing w.r.t your colleagues. If you think you are better than others, help hire good new ones.

  20. Bring up your kids so they can help Having a supportive significant other helps “-70dB optical carrier suppression by two-beam coupling in photorefractive media,” D.Z Anderson, V Damiao, D. Popovic, Z. Popovic, S. Romisch, A. Sullivan, Applied Physics B, 72, pp 743-748, 2001. “A lens antenna array with adaptive optical processing,” D. Anderson, E. Fotheringham, S. Romisch, P. Smith, Z. Popovic, IEEE Trans. Antennas and Propagation, Special Issue on Wireless Communications, pp. 607-617, May 2002.

  21. Enjoy the academic freedom: you can distribute the 60-80 hours per week however you like! except for during class times, committee times, research meeting times, conferences, industry visits, exams etc. No matter how smart you are, it takes hard work to do this job right, but it is the best job of all!

  22. How to deal with: • Variable funding • Variable space needs • Growing research group • Sabbaticals • Collaborators • Program managers • Getting bored with teaching • Family • Social and cultural life

  23. What kind of a Mom would I be if I did not bring a picture ?