The Unmotivated Professor

11 01 2012

I think I should change the name of this blog to the title of this post.  I cannot seem to find ANY motivation this semester.  I sit here at my computer with PowerPoint open, surrounded by textbooks, but I can’t seem to make myself transfer the information from the written page to digital screen.

That’s not the only area in which I cannot seem to find any motivation.  READING!  We all know that reading research articles is a key ingredient in staying up on the current research in your field, but that doesn’t make me want to read them all of the time.

My to do list is also staring me in the face, but have I checked anything off of it this week? Nope.

Is anyone else finding it hard to get motivated for this semester? Normally I am not this poorly motivated, but this semester seems to have me beaten already.  I’m not a rocket scientist, but it could possibly have something to do with the fact that we have a 2-year old and a 2-month old in our house.  They are both great and both sleep really well, but that doesn’t mean that having two as compared to one isn’t more exhausting.  Hopefully things will stabilize soon and I can get back to my normal semi-motivated self!



1 01 2012

The new year is upon us, and I have decided that I should get back to blogging (thanks to some recent posts by Dr. 27). I really liked her post about her scientific/career resolutions for the year. I tend to be a person who sets goals, but somewhere along the way I lose track of them and they just get buried in the massive pile of stuff that becomes my life.  Hopefully, by posting them here on the blog, coupled with blogging more frequently, I will be more likely to accomplish all of my resolutions.

So here they are (in no particular order):

  • Stay ahead of my lectures.  It always seems as though I start off with the best intentions of getting ahead of in preparing my lectures.  However, it always ends up after a month or so that I am struggling just to stay caught up with them.  I would like to have my lectures done in advance, but I can’t seem to find the motivation.  Hopefully becoming more seasoned (i.e. going around the block a time or two) will help!
  • Get my research lab up and running.  I am fortunate  to have a job where research is required, but not pressured.  When I started working at my current job (1 1/2 years ago!), I was the first bench chemist that they hired.  So there was nothing in place as far as a lab was concerned.  I didn’t technically have a start-up budget.  They just asked what things I needed (within reason) and they bought them.  Now the time has come that everything is pretty much in place and it is time to start doing some actual chemistry.  The only problem is…I don’t know what I want to do!  I think this is one of the downfalls of not doing a postdoc.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to be offered this job straight out of grad school, but I think I could have used a little more work being independent (or as independent as a postdoc can be) in research before I began.  I am trying to make myself stay busy scouring the journals for some kind of clue as to what interests me the most.
  • Build my network.  As a new faculty member (and a very introverted one at that), I find it very difficult to mingle and make connections with new people outside of my university.  I will be attending the Spring National American Chemical Society meeting in March (Thanks departmental travel budget!) and I hope to really start building my external network along with some collaborative research ideas (which could help me with my previous resolution).
  • Publish.  I would really like to submit an article at some point in time this year.  I am currently working on a small side project (that probably won’t result in any real chemistry being performed) that could result in a small publication.  Once my research really gets started, I would ideally like to publish at least 2 papers per year.
  • Grants.  I know that grants are extremely difficult to come by these days, but I would at least like to submit for one grant this year.
  • Contract. As of right now, I am on a 1-year contract.  When I go up for renewal this summer, I would really like to be offered a two-year contract, but I would be happy with another one-year contract.  I need to find out if I need to do something extra in order to merit a two-year contract or if they just haven’t been awarding those due to accreditation issues (not bad, it’s just that we are a new program).  After I have worked here for 7 years, I then become eligible for what they call a “permanent contract.”  A permanent contract is essentially this university’s version of tenure where your contract automatically renews without a yearly review, but it provides them a little more flexibility to fire you if you cross the line.
  • Be a good educator. The past 3-semesters I have taught classes and I have gotten good student evaluations, but I will admit that I have been “the easy teacher.”  I am going to strive to find ways to make my material useful for the students and present it in a way that is informative and keeps them awake.  I also need to learn to right better test questions because I have a tendency to be very straightforward with my test question.  I need to find a way to present my material in class so that it lends itself to more thought provoking exam questions.

I think that should just about do it for this year’s resolutions.  I will hopefully remember to update you all as the year progresses on the status of these resolutions.  Now to get started!


It’s been a while…

1 01 2012

This blogging thing did not work out like I had hoped last year. I kept getting discouraged because I felt like no one was reading it (even though I kept telling myself that this is more for me and if people read it that is just an added bonus). I then realized that more than likely no one was reading it because I posted so in frequently.

So, I have decided to start 2012 off on the right foot with this blog…a new post on the 1st day of the new year! I regularly check my blogroll (although it needs updated) and I decided to start posting again after reading Dr. 27’s recent posts about resolutions. While I am not big on making personal resolutions, I do like to make science/career resolutions. Unfortunately, I don’t have time right now to make a list, but you can expect a post either later tonight or tomorrow with my resolutions for the year! Thanks for the idea, Dr. 27!