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Transitioning from academic to professional life

February 9, 2008

This past week was my first week at a new job working for The Man.

As I’ve stated before, I won’t talk about specifics on this blog (see disclaimer) but I will from time-to-time share some thoughts about what I do. Not only would discussing details potentially get me in hot water, I think it’s more useful to others to discuss aspects more generally. In that way, hopefully you can relate and/or take away something that applies to your situation (saxifraga and Incoherent Ponderer do this well on their blogs). I’ve had the category academic life since the beginning of this blog…I’ve added one called professional life.

The idea of a “9-5” job where you don’t bring your work home with you is appealing. Unfortunately, even though my Ph.D. is officially complete, I’m still working on papers to submit for publication. Reviews for a paper I submitted last July came back in December and I’m finally getting close to submitting the revised version. I’ve been trying to work on the dang thing in the evening … it’s tough.

What do I do for my job? I will continue to investigate deep-marine sedimentary rocks in outcrop. In fact, me and my new colleagues are heading down to Patagonia in a couple weeks to look at the rocks I worked on for my Ph.D. Actually, we won’t be able to look at the specific outcrop I worked on but the same formation. The remoteness of my Ph.D. field area requires horses (pack and riding), a river crossing, and camping…I’ll post about some of those stories another time.

Following that, I’m giving a talk and co-chairing a session at the AAPG* Hedberg research conference held in Ushuaia, Argentina titled Sediment Transfer from Shelf to Deepwater: Revisiting the Delivery Mechanisms. I’m very excited about this conference. I’ve only been to a smaller, more focused conference once and it was great. This is where you can really get into the nitty-gritty and learn a lot from experts in the field. One of the “hot” topics in my field are hyperpycnal flows and their deposits in the stratigraphic record. I will put together a post about hyperpycnal flows soon…it’s cool stuff.

In April I’ll be heading to South Africa to take (and help teach) a field course looking at some more turbidite outcrops. My employer really likes turbidites…I guess that’s why they hired me. This will be the first time I’ve seen these spectacular Permian rocks (and first time to the continent of Africa). I’m planning on taking tons of photos (as always) and sharing them here.

So, the first couple months of this job is going to include a lot of travel and field work/trips…I can’t complain, I love the field. I will settle into mostly office work for the remainder of the year. I’m not sure exactly what projects I will be working on. We end up trying to relate what we see in great detail in outcrop (or on the modern sea floor) to analogous systems deep in the subsurface where you can’t “see” as much. Since I’m in R&D, our group ends up proposing projects and trying to get funding. So, another part of my job will be to convince the higher-ups that basic research is valuable…even if it might not be applicable for some time.

Papers that I’ve written or co-authored are in the pipeline and hopefully coming out soon. I’m looking forward to putting together some posts about my own research. I’ve been reluctant to post any of this before it’s published. I doubt anyone would scoop me off this blog, but you never know.

I’ve also been brainstorming ways to improve and expand Clastic Detritus. I like having the blog page as the focus, but I’m thinking about adding more static pages with information related to sedimentary geology. Another idea I have is to blog about one new paper and one classic paper in sedimentary geology every month…perhaps add those to the existing series.

I got some other ideas floating around … now I need to find the time.


* You might be able to figure out what type of company I work for without too much mental expenditure.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2008 2:42 pm

    * Obviously diamond exploration. ;)

    BTW, which institution will you put on the papers you’re still writing now?

  2. February 9, 2008 2:44 pm

    Also, does the Man seriously not expect more than 9-5?

  3. February 9, 2008 9:00 pm

    “which institution will you put on the papers you’re still writing now?”

    I guess it’ll be the university since I did the work there, but then with the little footnote saying “current address is ____”. I think that’s how that works.

  4. February 10, 2008 1:52 pm

    Sounds like a great job, and let me guess. Yes, I think I know what kind of business you’re in. Have fun with all the travelling. We look forward to the pictures and keep up the good work with writing/revising papers on top of work (that’s tough).

  5. February 12, 2008 6:57 am

    Hopefully you’ll be able to look me up when you’re in SA….

  6. February 12, 2008 3:26 pm

    I have been to sooooo many turbidite fan talks lately. :)

    Congrats on the new job, I personally like being in the professional realm much better, because I can buy whatever I need, go to whatever schools/classes/talks I think I need no matter the place or the cost. Anything that betters me or allows me to do more is an asset to “them”, so I have many more toys to play with. In academia I had to do a lot with a little and beg for every little piece of software or equipment.

  7. February 12, 2008 10:24 pm

    Sabine … yeah, the resources and tools available for training, learning more, and ‘increasing productivity’ are great. Another thing I like is that, at least where I am, there’s a lot of people my age (30s) … it’s nice being surrounded by a lot of smart, enthusiastic scientists my age to bounce ideas off of.

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