Is an R1 for you?

by Guest on February 13, 2017

This post is from an anonymous professor who has served as the chair of a faculty hiring committee.

I recently completed the experience of serving as a hiring committee chair for a research university. I hope you’ll consider advice from this hiring committee chair (to be considered in complement with many other similar pieces of advice). My main piece of advice is to seriously consider great jobs at places like my university, even though it is not one of the top ten schools in our field. There are many research-active institutions with great positions that would make you happy, even though they are schools you have never heard of.

Part of the problem is that we need to eliminate any classification in our own minds that certain careers in our fields are intrinsically better than others and are therefore much more desirable. It is not practical to ignore the broad continuum in research/teaching/service balance expected of faculty at a wide variety of institutions. Thus “R1” or “first-tier” become convenient shorthand for “at the research-heavy end of the academic spectrum.” Since astronomers love doing research, very naturally you might have a goal to work there, which is perfectly fine. The real issue is that R1 positions are perceived as being somehow “better” than positions at universities with slightly smaller research expectations and slightly larger teaching loads. Landing a faculty position at the research-heavy extreme of the spectrum is NOT necessarily better. We should replace this ranking mentality with how well certain careers match our needs and wants and provide us and our (current or future) families with overall happiness. (More on that below.) We can and should still rank job prospects and maybe R1s still pop up at the top of your list, but at least the list is now truly tailored to you. [Read more…]

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This post is from an anonymous professor who has served as the chair of a faculty hiring committee.

I was recently the chair of the hiring committee for a new faculty position. I am a junior faculty member and, based on my experience on both sides of the table, I wanted to pass along some advice (to be considered in complement with lots of other good advice available on AstroBetter’s blog and wiki).

In order to speak frankly, I’m posting anonymously, but I’ll give you a sense of the position we advertised. At my lesser-known institution, faculty are research active, teach 3-4 classes a year, and are expected to publish and get grants. We’re the kind of institution that focuses on research and teaching (which seems to be common today, even at institutions known for research prowess). However, much of my advice will apply to the whole spectrum of academic (and many non-academic) positions. [Read more…]

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It’s that time of year again. The 229th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society is nearly upon us. To make the most of your time at the meeting, we at AstroBetter would like to remind you of some resources available on the Wiki.

First, the post that everyone attending a winter AAS meeting should read (even if you’re not a first-timer), Jason Wright’s guide to Getting the Most Out of AAS Meetings. This resource is especially useful for students attending their first AAS meeting!

Jason has updated this post with specific sections regarding harassment and the wonderful Astronomy Allies program. ALL ATTENDEES need to familiarize themselves with the AAS Anti-Harassment Policy. AAS Meetings are meetings of professional astronomers (not a nightclub) and we should all behave as such.

[Read more…]

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Abigail Stevens is an astronomy PhD candidate at the Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam. Her research is on spectral-timing analysis of X-ray binaries. Meg Schwamb is an assistant scientist at Gemini Observatory, Northern Operations Center.

Register now for Hack Together Day at AAS 229 on January 7th! Hack Together Day is a day to to get together and design a doable project and attempt to fully execute it in one day. Or at least go down trying. Often, a Hack Day is a starting point for continuing collaboration on a project. Come with a project or just come hear the proposed hacks and then join a project. A wide variety of projects will be undertaken, spanning everything from software development to scientific research to creative outreach projects. You could come with a paper idea, a tool you want to learn, an outreach idea, or an astronomy-themed dress you want to make out of fabric posters. Hack day or programming experience is not required; newcomers are extremely welcome! We do ask that you commit the entire day to hacking, especially if this is your first hack day. [Read more…]

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Learn Software Carpentry at #AAS229

by Guest September 27, 2016

Azalee Bostroem (@astro_az) is a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Davis. Do you find yourself reading code in Python, sometimes attempting to update it, and all the time wishing you had been taught some Python in undergrad or graduate school? As astronomers we find ourselves frequently […]

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Using Python for Astronomical Data Analysis in the Era of JWST

by Guest September 26, 2016

The Space Telescope Science Institute and core developers from the Astropy community are sponsoring a workshop at the January 2017 meeting of the American Astronomical Society #AAS229. This workshop will cover the use of Python tools for astronomical data analysis and visualization in the era of JWST, with the focus primarily on UV, Optical and […]

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The Performing Art of Science Presentation at AAS 229

by Guest September 14, 2016

This guest post is by Emily Rice and Chris Crockett on behalf of the AAS Employment Committee and is one of a series of posts advertising the activities at the upcoming #AAS229 Meeting in Grapevine, TX We’d like to encourage you to consider attending The Performing Art of Science Presentation Workshop on Tuesday, January 3, […]

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A Workshop for Early-Career Astronomers Who Want to Do Better Outreach

by Guest September 9, 2016

The American Astronomical Society is sponsoring a skill-building workshop — and an ongoing community — to support early-career astronomers (graduate students, post-docs, recent faculty) in doing effective outreach to schools, families, and the public.  Working with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and other outreach organizations, the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors program (now in its fifth […]

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Rumor Mill Update: 2016

by Danny Barringer September 7, 2016

Now that we’ve begun a new academic year, the AstroBetter Rumor Mill has been wiped clean in preparation for another year of job searching. You can find the Faculty and Staff Rumor Mill page here, and the Postdoc and Term Rumor Mill page here. Happy job hunting everyone!

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Super Charge your ADS Searches with Filters

by Guest August 1, 2016

Alex Holachek is a front end developer for the NASA Astrophysics Data System based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.   The majority of queries in ADS are searches for authors. Author searches are simple when the author has a unique name, but what happens when the name is a common one? A search “Wu, […]

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