Why I want to be a prof

Galloway Cynthia M kfcmg00 at TAMUK.EDU
Tue Apr 30 13:36:50 EST 1996

I am a prof (although it's not ever something I think about).  I'll try 
to add some comments to a recent post.  

> I'm probably going to be looking for a job in the next year or two, and I
> used to think I wanted to be a prof.  I like research, I like teaching, I
> like supervising undergrads.  And, believe it or not, I even like writing
> papers and grants.  I've been reasonably successful writing grants and
> fellowships (at least by today's standards of the "norm" being 10-12%
> funding).

All of the things you say you like and things you have listed are part of 
my job along with advising (LOTS of advising), committee assignments and 
community service panels.  I have only been successful in the last year 
or two at grant writing (1 NSF/ILI and coPI on an MBRS retraining grant).
> But the view from "below" of the job situation is so grim that I'm feeling
> I have to ask for more information from those who have gone through the
> process and actually have jobs.  The only "script" (so to speak) that I'm
> aware of for the postdoc who gets an assistant professor job is:  you
> apply for an NIH or NSF grant,  your life depends on it, you go through
> unbelievable hell and stress, including several resubmissions, and then
> you get it, and life continues for a few more years. Then the process
> repeats itself in 3-5 years.  

I write one or two grant proposals a year but it isn't the only thing 
that affects my tenure.  I was promoted from assistant to associate after 
four years based on pubs, teaching evaluations, service to professional 
societies.  However, tenure did not come with promotion.  We are not 
eligible for tenure until our sixth year. 

> Coupled with articles in "Science" that the
> NIH is funding at 10-12% and the NSF is being gutted by Congress, this
> seems like an almost ludicrous, impossible situation.

Where I am, an article in Science would make me a God so, I settle for 
articles in lesser journals and go for volume if possible (Bryology in 
South Texas is really a wide open field).  I also enjoy the occasional 
articles in Plant Phys. and Physiologia Plantarum but, much of that work 
was done elsewhere.

> So, what I'm wondering is, what happens if you DON'T get the NIH or NSF
> grant on the third or fourth or fifth try?  Then what?  How does one find
> out about other sources of funding?

There are small, private foundations you can try as well as State agencies

> What about "institutional support?" 

Dream on!

> Has anyone ever heard
> of this, someone who used to be a professor, but then became a postdoc
> again? 

I have not heard of this but, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe 
I should try this.  This is my tenure year and everything looks good but 
things are not as rigerous at my institution as at the "bigger" schools. 
The thing that keeps me here is the thought of having to start over again 
after another postdoc, if I want to teach and do research.
If you get a tenure track job, carve yourself a niche so that your 
department can't get along without you or at least they feel that your 
departure would leave too big a whole to fill.  Don't turn down any jobs 
that you are asked to do at the start of your tenure but don't make 
yourself into someone that gets taken advantage of.  You need to keep 
some time for you and your goals.  I am guilty of letting what I want to 
do get shelved to do stuff I really don't want to do but, doing a little 
of what you don't want to do gives you some leverage when you want to say 
no to something.   I have to do most of my serious research during the 
summer in labs at other institutions but, this summer it may all pay off.

Smaller schools are wishing to masquerade as larger schools and seem to 
be requiring more and more for and with less and less.  It is 
nervewracking but, I'm not sure there is anything else I'd rather be 
doing (except getting a little more sleep) and a few more publications!!

Good luck, 


Dr. Cynthia M. Galloway
Associate Professor 
Dept. of Biology
Campus Box 158
Texas A&M University
Kingsville, TX 78363

FAX: 512/595-3409

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