Almost 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.