You may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front in recent weeks. The fact is, I’ve been a little busy in the real world. The funding for my project in Edinburgh ended at the end of October, so I’ve been rather busy in the lab trying to get all of my samples from Oman properly measured. I’ve also been preparing for the fact that this weekend, I am moving from here:
That’s right: I’m moving to the University of Chicago to start post-doc number three, on continent number three. I never realised when I chose the name for my blog, that my own career trajectory would be so… Highly Allochthonous.
My exodus occurs at a rather interesting (in far from the positive sense of the word) time for the academic sector in the UK: whilst the efforts of the Science is Vital campaign, marshalled with vigour by concerned science-types like Jenny Rohn helped to prevent basic research funding being sacrificed at the deficit altar in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review, that same review trimmed the teaching budget for Universities by 40%. For an early career scientist like me, who is unable to directly apply for many grants in the absence of a university staff position, that is not a comforting thing to see. And the fact is, although my PhD was funded by the UK’s Natural Environmental Research Council, my scientific career since then has been entirely funded by other countries. My sojourn in Johannesburg was funded by the university there and the South African National Research Foundation; my salary in Edinburgh was paid by European research funds (in fairness, the UK government must have provided some of the cash). And as I move abroad again, it’s with the knowledge that the only other potential job on the table for me at this moment was also in another country.
Still, even if I am to a certain extent moving to where the work is (and, conversely, away from where it isn’t), necessity is only a minor motivation. I’m excited about this move, the project and people I’m going to work for, and – last week’s regrettable lurch towards the crazy realms of the political spectrum notwithstanding – the chance to live and work in the US. Once things have settled down a little, I’m also looking forward to getting back to blogging more regularly, which will include writing about the new project, and probably reworking the odd ‘British person being confused by America’ cliche to death.
Wish me luck!