Volume 95 Issue 25 | p. 3 | Letters
Issue Date: June 19, 2017

Re: A year in the life of a new professor

Department: Letters
Keywords: opinions, letters

A senior VP once told me, as I took on the role of leading a group at a biotech company, “Imagine that every day you come to work, you’re given $1,000 to spend, because that is roughly what it costs the company to employ you, once you have factored in your salary, benefits, facilities, equipment, and consumables. Spend that money wisely, as if it were your own.” It was a valuable lesson in time and resource management, but also in personal responsibility. It doesn’t matter where you are in an organization, top, middle, or bottom of the career ladder, the advice still works well.

Jim Palmer

Hey @cenmag How about profiling chem asst profs at lib arts colleges? Diff challenges, important career option! #realtimechem

Mary Boyd (@marykboyd) via Twitter

Your title on the cover seems to suggest that the tenure track is the only academic option for chemists. How about the teaching track?

M. Gallardo-Williams (@Teachforaliving) via Twitter

Great article! As a new asst prof starting my own lab I think these are broadly relevant themes outside chemistry!

James R. Priest (@JamesRPriestMD) via Twitter

Industry is no different than teaching in a university or college. Yes, teaching is hard and rewarding work. I have taught part-time while working 40–50 hours in my full-time job. Plus I do not receive a three-month vacation. Try doing what industrial chemists do and I suspect you would still choose teaching. The plaques on the door for an industrial chemist are an even longer list.

Dave Wynn

Senior Correspondent Lisa Jarvis (@Lisamjarvis) asked her followers on Twitter: Interesting comments on my “Life as a new PI” story from chemists in industry. Folks, think the jobs are comparable?

I think the learning curve is steep in both. @DrRubidium quote is spot-on for industrial researchers. Teamwork is under-taught in Ph.D./ PIs need more breadth & have an entrepreneurial aspect of their jobs (starting a lab) that is lacking in established industrial labs./ Industrial chemists have to adapt to teamwork atmosphere, learn new technical/scientific skills & corporate env. Focus on science is #1./ Learn to be productive in a “regular” workday. Manage time in lab with other obligations and expectations. Build your network with peers./ Ultimately 1st year industrial scientists distinguish themselves by their scientific accomplishments while contributing to their team./ Biggest diff: Problem selection; in industry, problems find you & can’t decide not to take them on. No need to convince others of value.

Six tweets from L.-C. Campeau (@DrLCsquare) via Twitter

What they share is chemistry, but not much else. Big difference is a choice about which problems to solve (a double-edged blade!).

Philip Wheeler (@Humulonimbus) via Twitter

Only way to answer that question. Your next series: A Year in the Life: Following a First-Year Hire in Industry

George VDD (@HLA_Alchemist) via Twitter


Correction

May 29, page 5: The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy was established by the America Competes Act of 2007, not by the Obama Administration. Congress first funded it in 2009.

 
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