Friday, March 7, 2014


The other main reason why I haven't blogged as much as when I started nor as much as I've wanted is because the GEARS lab has had unchecked growth and has turned into (at times) an unwieldy monster. Over 2 years ago, I wrote a post about the difference between 18 & 27 which can be summed up as: You might as well dive into the tenure track position because you're not going to be successful by being timid. In hindsight, I cannot tell if that is bad advice or good advice, but I can tell you it really sucks at times. I think when I wrote that post I was having delusions of grandeur where I would go 5 for 5 on the 4 DoD YIPs and the NSF CAREER and demonstrate to the world my awesomeness. Fast forward 2 years and 0 for 5 later, my awesomeness has clearly been overlooked by program managers and reviewers. That's not to say I haven't had success with funding. I'm actually closing in on 7 figures of externally funded research as PI or coPI, which I think is a good pace to be on. I just don't know how the hell I'm going to sustain it without getting a bigger award.

The GEARS lab currently has 10 graduate students, a handful of undergrads, and I'm an informal faculty advisor to about 7-8 other students, which has left me strapped for time to get all of the other things I need to do done. Because I have been successful on the funding front, I've picked up twice as many students than in my original plan, which is basically like grabbing the tail of a lion. You can only hope to hang on at times, let alone corral it. I mentioned advising 10 students to some faculty at UGU, and their response can be summarized as "what the hell are you thinking?!?".

The good news is that I have a nice mix of students from three different departments that are all hardworking, dedicated, intelligent individuals. Most are either writing their first first-author paper or waiting to hear back from reviewers (fingers crossed). That's pretty awesome. I also have some good undergraduates that I think should be able to write a patent on their work and then submit a paper on it. That too has been pretty cool. We've had a couple of patent applications and invention disclosures too, which I think has been some pretty good output so far. And probably the best thing, at least individually for me is that my book was finally published and I have received a copy in print. I've even had a random cold-call question from someone who has actually bought it and read it.

Basically I've been spending 10-12 hours a day, sometimes 6-7 days a week on [trying to] maintain this for a while. It is pretty daunting, frustrating, and mentally taxing but does have its moments when it is all worth it. Now, I haven't had one of those in a while, so I think I'm in a funk right now, but I'll save that for the topic of another post.

Monday, March 3, 2014

So... I've been unmasked

And that unmasking was in spectacular fashion, might I add. Some of you may have caught the tweet, which was poorly phrased but I think got the point across. We have a tradition of a student-faculty roast where the students get a chance to poke fun at the faculty. Well, the students decided it would be hilarious (and it was) to recite all of my tweets, especially the ones about me drinking and writing proposals, or me drinking and grading papers, or me drinking and working on lecture notes. I'm pretty sure the rest of the faculty either thinks that I'm an alcoholic or well on my way to being one.

It turns out that the students found out about my blog almost immediately upon my arrival to SnowU and they all had the intelligence to resort to blog/twitter stalking me without actually following me. The fact that they held off for two years was pretty impressive. But now that I've been unmasked, I've been hesitant to blog more. So this brings up the question: How does a tenure track faculty member express their thoughts/musings/opinions about their current position, but not in the manner to upset their colleagues?

I've been mulling over this question for some time now, hence my reluctance to blog. The pile of work I have to do isn't helping either, but I digress. I know of a couple of  people that blog under psueds and they have managed to keep things under wrap decently well. I guess it is quite timely that I attended a seminar today on Big Data and how all sorts of public repositories for pictures can be used to mine just about everything about a person so I shouldn't be shocked to find out some undergraduates discovered my blog.

I guess going forward I'll have to walk a finer line about what I post and don't post, as well as the type of topics that I broach . For posterity's sake, I'll state again that the opinions expressed here are those of my own and not SnowU, and I'll stay away from singling out individual students and faculty, or particular one-off events.