The ‘okay’ prof down the hall

There’s a new prof that just started this summer.  He’s setting up his lab down the hall from me and he’s asking a lot of questions.  Dumb questions.  I assumed this is because he’s new, but after a couple months of dealing with him I’ve realized he’s just dumb.  Some of the setup questions are very newbie, so those are forgiven, but he’s talking about some collaborative ideas and they’re just not scientifically sound.  I don’t want to collaborate with him because he will ruin the research.  He’s very nice, and I have gotten coffee and couple lunches together, but I do not want him in my research.

He came from a two year post-doc so I assumed that maybe he’s great at publishing just maybe not as great at developing ideas.  I looked at his publication and presentation record and it’s worse than a my third-year student.  Now, I’m not from this country, I’ve dealt with discrimination, so I feel like it’s okay for me to say this (but maybe it’s not…but also I don’t care): diversity hires are total bullshit.  Apparently, the past 10 years my department has been focusing more on diversity than talent.  I hope I’m not part of this initiative, but maybe I am?

Talking to a Full Prof, sort-of mentor, I asked her about this initiative, and how the department has changed.  She mentioned how the grant activity has been crawling, though the quality of education, as measured by student satisfaction, has gone up.  Maybe administration wanted to improve on student satisfaction.  Ultimately, they are the ‘customers’ of the education ‘business’.  But I came into this to do my research so having collaborators that have less talent than a post-doc is something I don’t like.  Now, the satisfaction could be up for three reasons from what I’m hearing: 1. these aren’t great researchers, but great teachers (then why bring them in on the tenure track), or 2. students are more comfortable because their teacher looks like them, or 3. I dont know, but I’m going to stop typing before I go off too negative or offend someone….

Back from vacation

I just got back (last week) from a wonderful vacation.  Some backpacking, some beaching, a decent bit of travel, and a whole lot of reading.  Completely disconnected with a shit load of emails to attend to when I got back.  My inbox is officially completely read.  Also, my students didn’t go too off the rails.  Maybe because they also didn’t work much.  Recharging is healthy.  It’s needed.  I’ve always been of the standpoint that I don’t want to regret not having spent enough time on myself and my friends/family.

As someone addicted to work, I felt so weird taking this vacation.  I would only do, at most, a week a couple times a year of vacation before.  This multiweek endeavor was pretty tough at first, but eventually I disconnected and I’m so glad.  I felt ready to take on the world when I came back.  And one big difference between this and my industry job: I didn’t get any shit for taking the time off.  I used to get shit all the time for taking ‘me’ time.  I’m pretty sure my students were actually kind of glad I was gone.

In industry, everything moved so fast that if I was gone I fell behind, and the mentality is usually: ‘If you can take a lot of time off, and the company continue on, then they don’t need you.  You have to constantly prove your worth.’  Well now, I didn’t have to prove anything.   I just came back and everything picked up just fine.  Plus, my students seem refreshed.  Plus, I look great with a tan.