Saturday, November 22, 2008

full circle

As we edge closer to the end of the term here at SLAC, I've been inviting my students to provide me with anonymous (or not so anonymous) feedback regarding the course I've been teaching. Some of them have chosen to do so, and for the most part they have specific complaints regarding certain assignments or aspects of the class but have very nice things to say in general. They make me feel much better about impending student reviews, and about the potential for making this class super awesome in the future.

I've spent a lot of time recently trying to figure out the "what next" aspects of this having-a-job thing -- what grants I want to apply for, what research I want to pursue. My grad advisor has been very supportive and generous in terms of turning over parts of projects to me should I wish to pursue them. This is both exciting and frustrating in the sense that much of it is very hypothetical and uncertain at this point.

I've also been doing some research regarding my new collaboration in Far Off Country I've Never Been To. If it turns out to be a good field area I will be thrilled, but not having been there invites the dilemma of not knowing exactly how to prepare. And, to make things more interesting, working in this new place will bring me into the region of interest of the Very Famous Scientist who tore into me after my very first conference talk as a graduate student. Many of his complaints were more related to my not portraying aspects of my work in enough detail, but some of his criticisms motivated me to change the way I presented my work afterward (which was probably a good thing). Still, gathering all his papers and reading his work reminds me of that confrontation and makes me wonder if, assuming I ever publish anything from this new area, he will remember my name or perhaps think to himself, "oh, it's that idiot student!"

I'm finally finding time to clean my office. By the time I'm done, students won't need to come talk to me anymore, and I'm sure it'll be a mess again by the time the new term begins.

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