the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Next Big Thing

for me, not for anyone else. with the end of ph.d. work in sight, i have been pondering what to do next. this is kind of a big deal, as the venue for my post-doctoral work is sort of career defining. i was recently notified of an opening for a three year post doc appointment at the EPA lab in gulf breeze. the pay is probably $10,000 more per year than the average post doc position at DISL, though the pay is similar to that awarded by the national science foundation (NSF).

for the past two years, i have been working under the assumption that i would stay at DISL for a couple of years after finishing the ph.d. and do a post doc with dr. v. in his words, "i did this for derrick, and i'll do it for you." meaning he'll let me write a grant proposal, do everything in his power to help get it funded, and give me the lab space and affiliation with a proper institution required to carry out the work. derrick is a former student of dr. v.'s who was finishing his ph.d. just as i was starting mine.

i met with dr. v. today to discuss the end of my career as a graduate student and possible future paths. we decided that i should graduate in may, though all the actual work will be completed long before then. i hope, anyway. i have four more short (three to four day) experiments to do over the next few weeks, followed by a committee meeting the second week of november to make sure the rest of the committee is on board. i should have at least one chapter in dr. v.'s hands by then, with two more to follow shortly. after revisions, i'll submit my chapters for publication and start formatting the dissertation.

and after all that, when i am officially dr. latina? who knows? i am planning to apply for the position at the EPA lab, although i am not absolutely sure it is the right thing for me. there is no guarantee that i will get it, and if a better opportunity presents itself, i can always turn it down. i will probably also submit a grant proposal to NSF, with dr.v. as co-PI (principle investigator). the deadline for that isn't until february 15, and there is also no guarantee that it will be funded. it's nice to have some options, though.

there are pros and cons to both options. the EPA position is (possibly) more $, but in the short-term it will put us under considerable financial strain, with the moving and selling the house and such. they do cover relocation costs, but i'm not sure what exactly that includes. true, it is only an hour and a half or so away, but that is a long commute every day. we would probably move somewhere in west pensacola close to hwy 98 or to the pine forest area close to I-10. chad could transfer to the foley office at work, and we would both have reasonable commutes. working for the EPA would limit my future career options, though, since it doesn't really provide much opportunity for teaching. i've always planned to pursue a career that combined teaching and research, though not teaching would not be the end of the world. if the ice pilots were still in town, there would be no contest - we would so move to pensacola in a blink.

staying at DISL is best for us financially, at least in the short term. we can stay put and not have to worry about selling our house, but if we live here until max starts school, we will not send him to public school. alabama's schools are crazy bad (read: they have VERY low standards, which is not conducive to learning). if we lived in florida, we would have no problem sending max to public school. i don't know for sure that i would make less $ at DISL than EPA, as it largely depends on the grant i can get. if i land a grant from NSF, the pay might be comparable. but i might not get a grant. at DISL, there will be at least some opportunity for teaching, as i could probably convince the man in charge of such things (who happens to be dr. v.) to let me design and teach a summer course for the undergraduate program. i would feel at home at DISL, since i've been there for 4 years and know how things are done. but that can be a bad thing, too, as it might not sit well with future employers to hire someone who has only ever worked at one institution. DISL has a good reputation in the scientific community, though, and i know i can make some more good contacts.

i'm just not sure where to go from here. it's a good thing i have a little time to ponder.

No comments: