Thursday, May 5, 2011

New beginnings

Summer stands just on the horizon with all it's promise and potential.   Uninterrupted research time, which for me these days means time to read the literature, write papers and grants.  Time to think about larger things than just how to make it through the next week.  Fewer meetings and crises? (in my dreams...) A time to reflect back on the past year and plan for the next.  I'm mentally gathering my list of goals personal and professional for the summer as well as all the little items that have fallen through the cracks (especially personal).  Sure I still have one last stack of papers to grade but beyond that looms the future with great open expanses of time.

People keep asking me what are you doing this summer.  It seems like a funny question to me really, as though teaching was the only part of my job.  In reality teaching is about 1/3 of my job although it can grow to hold a larger share at some time during the semester.  It's constant urgency of class 2x/week, tests, assignments, etc. alway brings it near the top of the to-do list.  But it is really only part of what I do.  There are parts of it I love and parts I don't but the reality is at R1 universities, it's not what makes or breaks my career.  What makes or breaks me is research - publications, grants, recognition.  So the joy of summer is that I can really focus on research.  Unlike the colleague that do field work, I don't leave town to do research, I hunker down in the office/lab.  It used to mean trips to the library, but now I can access almost anything I need online.

So my summer will be filled with research or at least it's planning and supervision. My lab will be filled with extra students both undergraduate and graduate.  It's not really time off, it's just different.  But I'm so ready for the change of pace.  I also treasure the lull weeks between finals and when the summer students arrive.  I used to find this a little depressing in graduate school when all the undergrads left, but now I find it refreshing. Perhaps that means I'm getting old....

Happy summer everyone!