The Intoxication of Academia

I have spent my entire career in academics, from my undergraduate research projects, to my stint as a technician, to grad school, a postdoc and even a coveted TT position at a major research university.

I’ve had ups and downs as a TT faculty member. The absolute freedom it provides is intoxicating. What other career affords an opportunity to pursue exactly what you want to do?  What other career entices you to obsess about it? You can spend all of your waking hours reading and writing papers and grants, presenting your findings at meetings and invited talks, forging collaborations, leading brainstorming sessions, discussing the data with students. The highs are powerful, heady: the first paper from your lab, your first grad student’s thesis defense, securing grants, giving talks. The lows (grant rejections, paper rejections, bureaucracy, politics…) leave you craving more.

Prestige leads to travel, which afforded me the opportunity to visit Singapore and take a side trip to Borneo, where travelingvideo guy and I dove with leopard sharks and visited orangutan shelters, to Germany, Italy and France, where travelingvideo guy and I spent hours looking at Michelangelo’s David, cooked a meal with locals in Paris, and saw an archeological dig from the Roman empire. It afforded me an opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Egypt, where I had a tour of the National Museum by an Egyptologist, where I spent the night in someone’s home, and even had a police escort.

I love traveling, and Academia has been good to me in that regard. I’ve visited places most non-scientists only dream about. It has been a good run, and now as I transition from Academia to a career in Science Policy, I am thinking about the perks of Academia I will miss, and am looking forward to discovering what this new venture has in store. I hope to share this journey with you–the ups and the downs and the boring times, too.

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