The past 12 months have been quite busy for my wife and I. In September I defended my PhD at the University of Ottawa/Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. In December we moved across the country to Halifax so that I could begin a post doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University.
Coincidentally, the day that we drove out of Ottawa in a 14 foot Uhaul, we also found out that my wife is pregnant. That day was also a massive snowstorm (if anything makes driving a massive truck in a snowstorm even more stressful, it’s knowing that you’re about to be a first-time parent!). After a short time in Halifax, we have now moved again – this time to Prince Edward Island, where I have begun work as an Assistant Prof in Applied Human Science*. That makes for 2 separate moves within 7 months (and a single pregnancy!).
I’m really excited to be starting what is essentially my dream job. I’ll be in a relatively small school doing both teaching and research, which was always my goal. And it’s in the part of the world/Canada that my wife and I have wanted to be in all along. I think that both the department and the community will be an excellent fit, and it’s been a very positive experience for us so far.
As I transition from post doc to prof, I wanted to take a moment to publicly thank my post doctoral supervisor Chris Blanchard, as well as his team at Dalhousie. Although I was only in his lab for 7 months, he was extremely generous to me both in time and in resources. We’ve begun some very interesting projects that will start to trickle out soon (one is currently under review, two others will be submitted shortly), and have begun prepping for some very cool future projects. Chris and his team were excellent to my wife and I, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our time in Halifax. I would also like to thank the Heart and Stroke Foundation for their funding of my work at Dal. And it goes without saying that I am forever thankful of all the good folks at the HALO research group in Ottawa.
I should also mention that when I was putting together my application for this position I leaned very heavily on the tremendous resources that have been collected by Dr Becca in her Tenure Track Aggregator (in addition to the help of many colleagues). In particular, I found the Prodigal Academic‘s posts to be very helpful, despite being in a very different field and dealing with very different types of academic institutions. Similarly, this handy list of questions to ask/prepare for from SERC was unbelievably helpful. If you are applying to an academic job, I cannot recommend that you click on those above links highly enough. I also had a lot of help from the Centre for University Teaching at the University of Ottawa, and the Centre for Learning and Teaching at Dal.
However, while I found a ton of advice online about how to prep my application for my current job, I’m cognizant of the fact that grad school is not a perfect preparation for life as an academic. And so I’d like to ask for input from anyone who has once been in my shoes as a new faculty member:
- What did you do that worked well?
- What would you do differently?
- How did you balance the responsibilities of teaching and research?
- How did you transition from being a student/trainee to being a prof/mentor?
And from anyone who was ever a student:
- What did your profs/supervisors do that you liked best?
- What did they do that you liked least?
- What would have improved your experience as a student?
I’ll be doing both teaching and research, so I’m interested in your thoughts on either or both. If you’re uncomfortable commenting under your real name, feel free to comment anonymously (the email line needs to be completed, but as far as I know, it need not be a valid email address). And if you’re completely uncomfortable posting online but would like to share, feel free to email me at saunders dot travis at gmail. I’d rather have comments available so that others can benefit/reply, but I’ll take advice in any form that I can get it.
As for what this will mean for the Obesity Panacea, probably not much. I will continue to post when I have time (aiming for 1-2 posts/week between Peter and me), focusing mostly on topics that I am currently working on (I will try to work in some posts related to my course content as well, so that it’s not 24/7 sedentary behaviour). Peter and I began this blog almost 6 years ago, a month before I defended my MSc. So for the handful of people who have been reading since then (I’m looking at you, Angie & Yoni!), you’ve actually seen a frightening amount of my professional development!
As always, thanks for reading, and I look forward to any advice you’d like to share!
*As always, a reminder that the opinions and info expressed on the blog belong to Peter or I (or the guest post author, as appropriate), and do not reflect those of any other institution or funding agency. I hope that’s pretty obvious, but this is a good opportunity for a reminder. It is also why I don’t specifically list my active academic affiliation(s) here on the blog, although they are by no means a secret.