year end review: professing

It is my last day at work, for the foreseeable future. I have never, from the time I was fifteen and worked illegally as a berry-picker for the summer, been away from a form of gainful employment* for more than two weeks. This feels very strange.

I have been at Innovation U for a full university calendar year (as ours ended yesterday with the end of the exam period).

I have, in that time:

  • written a book chapter and had it accepted
  • had five articles and one book chapter be published, fruits of labour from years past (mostly recent work, but one from my M.Sc. work from a full decade ago!)
  • written ten grants as lead or sole PI
  • been a co-applicant on nine grant applications
  • had eight grants funded, and three rejected (rest are in review)
  • equipped a lab with sufficient supplies and equipment such that rudimentary research can take place
  • established a field sampling program, including all necessary supplies and all paperwork required to take students to a contaminated site
  • recruited a graduate student for this year, and five more for next September**
  • supervised six summer volunteers and three fourth year senior thesis students
  • taught a 736-student course, relatively successfully
  • sat on three departmental committees, five students’ advisory committees, two grant review panels, and peer-reviewed nine manuscripts
  • directed a lab renovation, from layout to specialized equipment needs to paint colours and flooring choices
  • given ten public talks at seminar series or conferences
  • founded a journal club for my subdivision in my department
  • acted as a conference co-chair for a 450 person conference next June (a responsibility I am largely stepping away from while on leave)

Some of this went really well. I am batting a well-above-average funding record right now, and one of the papers rapidly became the largest feather in my academic cap (top 100 articles for visibility in 2016, out of 2.7 million articles this year. It is a beautiful monster.).

Some of this was pretty rocky. I am bad at buying supplies in anything resembling a timely manner. I am bad at allowing service and teaching to derail research. I am pretty sure I badly mismanaged my students this semester, particularly the fourth year thesis ones.

I have not learned so much in so short a time in years. I have not felt out of my depth or unqualified so often in years. I have really enjoyed the work, been anxious about the work, and hated the work, though on balance I have enjoyed my days and the various hats I wear.

I am very tired. I have been very tired for a long time now. I am sad to put much of this on pause, and I look at my very modest list of hoped-for productivity while on leave with wry optimism.

I am curious to see how my productivity and prioritization change with Spud’s arrival; how future year-end reviews look compared to this one. There are things I assume about how I will balance being a mother and a professor, and I am curious to see what actually happens once Spud is less abstract***.


* yes, caring for a small human is a job and a legitimate use of time. Yes, it is undervalued work (though not, in Canuckia, and specifically for the first six months at my school, underpaid – 95% of my salary). Yes, it is a valid career choice for a person to make. No, our society does not value it as such. Also, reading “The Price of Motherhood” when 8.5 months pregnant is not a good idea, I’m just saying.
** talk to me in July when I realize that is too many. Two are potentially mistakes, but one I’m invested in already and one I agreed to before I really understood what potential was out there, and I can’t back down now without being a jackass.
*** as abstract as a roiling bog monster below my rib cage can be. Spud now protests if I cross my arms over my stomach, as it cramps their style. My organs and their limbs are in a constant jockey for space these days.

One thought on “year end review: professing

  1. conceptionallychallenged

    Kudos to you! Very impressive list.
    And yeah, I read some of those parenthood and career articles, and they are so depressing. However, what they didn’t (and probably can’t) capture is how much I love being a mom. There is so much more to this equation than numbers.


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