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Physics Skipping Postdocing and becoming a professor strategy

  1. Feb 4, 2016 #1
    If I spend 8 years in grad school but publish lots of papers, lets say 20 as first author and have a very good thesis can I skip being a post doc and go straight to being a associate professor? Also lets assume the Ph.D and professorship is in theoretical physics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2016 #2
    If you're willing to go above and beyond to become an associate professor, I would think so. Ultimately, it all depends upon how much effort you're willing to exert.
     
  4. Feb 4, 2016 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Kianlos doesn't know what he is talking about.

    This is not possible. This requires skipping two steps and it does not happen. It didn't happen with Arkani-Hamed, It didn't happen with Maldacena. It didn't happen with Lisanti. It didn't happen with Guth. It didn't happen with Witten. It's not going to happen to you.
     
  5. Feb 4, 2016 #4
    Gotta love that optimisim, right?
     
  6. Feb 4, 2016 #5
    Even if they are sure they want you as their professor in the future, first they want you to go and get international experience and connections.
     
  7. Feb 4, 2016 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    OK, fine Please explain the basis for your message. If this were as easy as you say, you could easily come up with dozens of recent examples. And?
     
  8. Feb 4, 2016 #7

    e.bar.goum

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    Has anyone even ever published 20 good, groundbreaking (which is what they'd need to be) first author papers during their thesis? Frankly I think the premise is a bit problematic.

    Further, a professor has to have demonstrated several skills that are only really learned post-phd - supervising students, applying for, and winning grants, as well as service work to the university. Research excellence is only one facet of being an academic.
     
  9. Feb 4, 2016 #8

    Choppy

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    I was typing almost the exact same thing E.bar.goum just posted.

    It's one of those scenarios that while technically not "impossible" it remains so highly improbable that it's not really worth spending much time thinking about.
     
  10. Feb 5, 2016 #9

    Andy Resnick

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    No. I suppose it is possible to be directly hired as an assistant professor, but even that is highly unlikely because of the (presumed) lack of teaching experience. It is simply not possible to be awarded tenure (associate professor) directly out of grad school. Under any circumstances.
     
  11. Feb 5, 2016 #10
    I guess that question is rather easy to answer:
    1) If possible, do something like four years of PhD and four years of post-doc instead of eight years as a PhD: more conventional, more freedom, better pay.
    2) If not possible anymore (because the condition premised is already in place) just go ahead and apply for professorship positions. Not much to lose at this stage.
     
  12. Feb 5, 2016 #11
    What if I spend those 8 years teaching as well and become good friends with anyone in the department?
     
  13. Feb 5, 2016 #12
    Wait I thought associate professors were only on tenure track but not actually tenured.
     
  14. Feb 5, 2016 #13
    Become more concrete. What is it you are after? Are you describing your current situation? If not, what is it?
     
  15. Feb 5, 2016 #14

    e.bar.goum

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    Then they'll say "gosh, that xdrgnh is very good, we should make sure to line up a great postdoc for xdrgnh!"
     
  16. Feb 5, 2016 #15
    I applied for grad school and still waiting for an answer no rejections yet. I've been tutoring for many years and lecture to gifted high school students topics in advanced physics. I want to be a professor and I'm planning what route will ensure me that I have the highest chance of becoming one.
     
  17. Feb 5, 2016 #16

    e.bar.goum

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    The way to maximise chances is to do postdocs in a variety of places, do a variety of things, and importantly, meet a variety of people. Doing postdocs is how you get known in a field.
     
  18. Feb 5, 2016 #17
    Well, like others have said, you will have to follow the beating path. There's some exceptions I am sure, but they aren't in traditionally conservative sciences like physics. I know some people have become full professors at a very young age, but not in the natural sciences, and often people frowned upon it.

    If they really make you a professor without postdocs, you may headline 'youngest professor appointed', etc. And then people in all labs doing similar research will talk about you because they made you professor without having done much/having been a postdoc/being so young. Not about your work.
    In the end what matters a lot today is how much money you can gather to do research. If you do research in a novel topic a certain university is very interested in and you already have the money, they may make you a full professor.


    I know that in my degree, 2% of the people become full professors. And apparently that's a really high number. What is the age a person usually becomes a professor? About 40 to 45?
    That's the track you can expect, kinda, for becoming a professor. It will differ in different countries and in different fields. And any variance will be more likely towards the negative side than towards the positive.

    Even if you are seen in your institution as a rising star and potential professor, they want you to go out and get experience at other labs/countries before you return to become a professor.
    There is a reason postdocs exist. I mean, they aren't the hottest thing to talk about, right. Also, you don't put someone untested in charge of a whole lab. You want someone who was been around, seen what works and what doesn't, published stuff, supervised students and copromoted PhD students.
    You don't make someone you just hired the CEO of the whole company. In a sense, a professor is a mini-CEO.

    I am in a similar position. I want to become a professor. If there's some paper I have to sign right now so I will become a professor at age 45, Ill sign it right now.
    But do I want to be someone who goes down the whole process to become a professor? I am not so sure. Do I want to sign up for the 2% chance of becoming one? Well, what makes up the other 98%?

    And I concur, if you are unwilling to do postdocs and play it safe, stay where you are and take no risks, you aren't likely to become a professor as your competitors will be willing.
     
  19. Feb 5, 2016 #18

    Choppy

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    The route that will give you the highest chance of becoming a professor involves doing a couple post-docs.
     
  20. Feb 5, 2016 #19

    Andy Resnick

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    It is true that promotion to associate professor and award of tenure are different and require different approvals, but it is a difference without distinction.

    The tenure-track progression goes: assistant professor, associate professor (with tenure), full professor. Tenure is awarded in conjunction with promotion to associate professor. Non-tenure tracks, for example research positions, have similar promotion levels and so it is possible to be an untenured research full professor.

    In general, the 'tenure clock', the length of time you have between your appointment as an assistant professor and the award or denial of tenure is 6 years. AFAIK, the tenure clock cannot be re-set by transferring to another institution. The length of time between associate and full professor is highly variable, some people retire as associate, but if someone is actively (and successfully) working towards full professor, the time period seems to be abut 5 years. Being denied promotion to full professor is different than being denied tenure, tho- denial of tenure essentially means you are fired.

    Note: every institution has its own policies regarding promotions, award of tenure, and what additional rights and responsibilities are conferred with tenure.
     
  21. Feb 5, 2016 #20

    ZapperZ

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    This is ridiculous!

    When you've actually published those 20 papers, then come back here and ask this again. Otherwise, you are asking us to address an unrealistic situation that you've made up out of nowhere, and continue to make up as you go along.

    If I were you, I'd worry about what's immediately in front of me.

    Zz.
     
  22. Feb 9, 2016 #21

    f95toli

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    It does not matter. Science is no different than other fields that it there is a definite "business" part. Research and even teaching is only part of the job. When universities hire people they will be looking for someone who has connections (ideally internationally), has some experience finding new money (writing grant applications and/or working with companies) and can manage a project and a team.
    Note that there a are very few places where scientists can do science full time; nearly all senior scientist will spend a fairly large part of their time using skills they simply do not teach you as an undergraduate or PhD student.
     
  23. Feb 11, 2016 #22

    Mark Harder

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    Even Einstein worked in the patent office before his brilliance was recognized. I'm told he wasn't an outstanding lecturer, no Feynman in other words. His first appointment was made on the basis of his promise as a researcher. Rather than your accomplishments as a grad student, which are quite impressive, I'll admit, you should be asking yourself how many professionals you respect know your name? If you go to conferences and introduce yourself and they know who you are right away, if they approach you, not the other way round, that's a good start. As they say, it's not what you know; it's who you know (and who knows you.) At that point, tell them about your intention to go straight to a tenure-track position. What do they think? What do they say? I wouldn't even attempt this unless the above prerequisites have been met. Otherwise, you will come across as naive and cocky and, well, strange. You should also be ready to explain why it took you 8 years. In my field, biochemistry/biophysics, 4 or 5 years is typical.

    BTW, you want to go straight to Associate prof, not Assistant. You do realize that you would be asking if you could skip the whole tenure granting business, don't you? That's a real jump.
     
  24. Feb 11, 2016 #23

    DrClaude

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    The OP's initial question, while completely hypothetical (dare I say unrealistic) has been answered.

    Thread closed.
     
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