Thursday, August 04, 2011

Academic Blog of the Day

Academic Garden is an awesome blog by New Prof in New India who joined one of the newly minted STEM institutions in India. In her blog, NPNI has been writing about her experiences at this institution. In April, for example, NPNI described the kinds of things she considered before choosing a new institution (as opposed to old, established places); this post is worth reading just for the contrasting ways in which three top institutions in her list treated her application and her subsequent visits!

In the follow-up post -- To Have or To Be -- she talks about the pros and cons of her choice. Here's a quick excerpt:

Most of us will agree that an established group in one's research area is a highly desirable attribute in a school where one hopes to work. If such a group does not exist, it helps if the department concerned has a few senior professors with productive research programs. These people, apart from maintaining a research-oriented and intellectually vibrant atmosphere, also provide leadership and much-needed guidance to the new entrants.

When you join a baby department of a very new institute, the presence of such people may not always be possible. In my subfield, for example, there are only three research institutes in India with groups of > 1 people. As these places do not have undergraduate programs and I am a strong believer of the IIT/IISER/North American model of departments with both undergraduate and graduate programs, I did not have the luxury of joining an institute with readily available research collaborators. Most of my colleagues are in a similar situation. The institute provides us with all the professional support we need, but because it is itself very new, it cannot give us previously formed research groups. In fact, it expects us, the newbies to get our research programs going and build the groups that we want. In other words, it wants us to be what we cannot have.

People looking at academic careers in India would want to keep this in mind and think about this issue carefully.

NPNI has been blogging for quite sometime now, but I just discovered the blog a few days ago; it's now on my Google Reader.


  1. Vijay said...

    Thanks for this link, Abi. Very nice bog. Here's what I posted there.
    Hi New Prof in New India,
    I really enjoyed this post. Its wonderful for those joining new places in particular but also for those looking for faculty positions anywhere to hear about your experiences. You write politely and well and I am sure no one will take offense if you identify the places you are writing about. N1 can only become better and even more responsive! I would love to recommend N1 to others and perhaps apply myself if only I knew where it is :-)). In any case congrats and thanks to Nanopolitan for pointing me here. Keep writing.
    Best wishes

  2. chitta said...

    I also enjoyed reading her blog. Thanks for the pointer.

  3. Kaneenika Sinha said...

    Hello, everyone!
    I just checked my blog stats and was pleasantly surprised to see a big surge in the number of readers, undoubtedly because of the link from here :)
    Thank you, Abi, for this post and thank you, Vijay and Chitta, for your feedback.
    Vijay, all I can say is that it is a good idea to apply widely to many institutes and not write off any new ones before visiting them :-) All the very best for your job search.

  4. Kaustubh Thirumalai said...

    Thanks for the share! This looks like a really cool blog. *Adds to Google Reader*