Terrane Accretion: the end of Chris’s postdoc odyssey

A post by Chris RowanAlmost six years ago, I left the lab in Southampton where I had studied for my PhD on a quest to stay in academia and get paid to do interesting science. Thus began a period of my life which can only be described as, well, Highly Allochthonous. After almost two years in South Africa, looking at some of the oldest rocks on Earth, I shifted hemispheres to Edinburgh and time periods to the extremely glaciated end-Neoproterozoic. Two years later, I was on the move again, this time to Chicago and the last 100 million years of global plate motions. 3 postdocs, 3 continents, 3 billion years. If I had a stratigraphic record, I’d surely be regarded as the most exotic of exotic terranes

It’s been a fun journey: I’ve seen much, and learnt more. My geological knowledge has grown, and I’ve also had the privilege of having my perspective broadened, at least a little, by spending time in countries very different culturally from my homeland. But it has been hard in some ways too: the lack of stability in my home address, and the knowledge as I arrive in a place that my stay has a built-in end date, has made it at heart a somewhat rootless existence; an increasing desire for a bit more stability has therefore added even more urgency to my professional need to move on and up from the post-doctoral treadmill. In the last few years, I’ve also a been in a long-distance relationship; that distance was happily much lessened by my move to Chicago, but has added the dreaded two-body problem into the mix.

Now my funding in Chicago is about to end, so I’m moving on once more. But this time, I’m not moving quite so far. This time, I’m not moving to a new postdoc. This time, I might get to stay somewhere more than 3 years. Starting in January, I will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University. The transition to regular teaching, the need to secure my own funding, and effectively supervising my own students will all be new and daunting challenges for me, but I’m looking forward to it. The whipped cream and marshmallows on top of this delicious hot chocolate is the fact that my move also neatly solves my two-body problem. I may have finally found a nice stable continent to accrete to.

So farewell Chicago, and the little collegiate bubble on the South Side occupied by Hyde Park and the University of Chicago.

And hello Kent. But not yet! Because first there’s the small matter of the AGU Fall Meeting. That’s right: I decided to break up my move with a major detour to San Francisco, just as over the past few weeks I interspersed packing up my apartment and office with creating a poster and writing a talk. I just love to maximally complicate my life, it seems. But the insanity aside, I’ll be in the Moscone Centre, seeking out cool science, presenting my own, and trying not to get too embedded in the poster hall vortex. More details to follow. Right now, I have a plane to catch.

Categories: academic life, bloggery
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Comments (13)

  1. Erik says:

    Good luck with the final move and welcome to Ohio!

  2. Lockwood says:

    As a sweet farewell to Chicago, I’d like to recommend “Source Code,” a terrific sci-fi flick that sets the viewer up for disaster, over and over, only to pull an unbelievably heartwarming conclusion out of thin air. And as I say, it is a fond look at Chicago and those who live there, as well. As a native Ohioan, I’m pretty fond of that state, too. Enjoy

  3. Cian says:

    Congratulations! I look forward to hearing about your new geo ventures in & out of the classroom.

  4. Ron Schott says:

    Congratulations, Chris! Hope the pressure of accretion at Kent doesn’t deform you too badly. (With any luck you’ll return to the surface as a lovely blueschist or eclogite.) May your transition to a parautochtonous life be an enjoyable one!

  5. Congrats! Hope you enjoy it there!

  6. Simon Wellings says:

    Congratulations! Can we start calling you Prof. Rowan?

  7. Carol Jefferson says:

    Welcome home, Chris.

  8. Suvrat says:

    congratulations Chris!

  9. Dana Hunter says:

    Huzzah! So excited for you! Good luck at Kent State, m’dear, and congratulations on solving your two-body problem. Hopefully, with stability will come the opportunity to take vacations with Anne, to, oh, say, the Pacific Northwest. Nudge nudge wink wink.

    Have fun at AGU!

  10. You tagged this “scary growing up stuff”?! I should tag figure out how to edit the post and retag this something like “awesome professional and personal progress.” Congrats, Chris, and enjoy AGU.

  11. Matt Hall says:

    Congratulations, Chris. Ohio is the new barycentre of geoblogging! Good luck with the move.

  12. Passerby says:

    A six-year postdoc! Finally ending, with a marvelous new beginning for you.

    Good luck on your move and congrats on your new position, Chris.

  13. motsfo says:

    my childhood was spent being pulled all over the globe with the results that i never made it home. Kinda un-nice for me. As an adult i’ve stayed in the same house for thirty plus years; but i still don’t feel ‘home’. i think ‘home’ is an early mind set and i never got it. Sad but that’s my life. i’ve followed Your travels for several years now and have enjoyed Your frequent moves with all the local pics. They have a certain charm and humbleness about them. Best! for You for the new location and the New Year. motsfo ps…. send pics 🙂

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