The floating dust burned into the wall above the heater in February, the dancing water mist over the thin ice in March, the dew on the magnolia in April, the last burning birthday candle on the cake in May, the growl in the moist air in June, the lonely nightmare in an empty room in July. It seems that 365 days of a year have become a thing from the last century. All the alphabets scattered and dissipated on the surface the paper, and the last trace of scratches was folded in time after struggling for a couple of times in vain. The lotus root is broken, so are the clinging fibers. Nothing is connected anymore. Time, time chopped off all hope of going back, confining you to the thickest cocoon. If you do not grow out of a transformation, then die inside. Occasionally, in a dream, your voice, and his face, we invariably hummed the melody that we used to know.
Holding the broken clinging fibers that have been lost for more than 20 years, I gradually realized that they are eternal. While we, and the connections between us, are just a blink of an eye. We are still there, that time and space. Yet, we are no longer there.
Today, Julien Milli talked about his academic career path in ESO. He offers many useful suggestions which are especially helpful for people working in observatories.
The first thing that we astronomers should keep in mind is that we are privileged to be astronomers. We are able to do what we like as a career, and make a living with that.
Here I made a list of some of them which I think are inspiring.
- Time management
- preserve the science time;
- keep a healthy lifestyle (!);
- manage the priority, there’s always more to do;
- Need to find a role model.
- Independently build new collaborations, extended research areas.
- Some institutes downgrade if there is a large overlap with your Ph.D. advisor in publications.
- Build a tie with the future institute and team
- Look for support from a team/institute and present your work there
- Build a project in agreement with the institute’s priorities/research area
- Keep good publication record
- Keep strong involvement with the European community & instruments
- Maintain a good connection with ESO, with the people there
- In the case of ALMA, via instrumentation? Data reduction technique?
- The advantage of having 50% duty works
- Knowing the instrument helps with making the best of the data — best quality of data reduction and debugging the data
- Using the chance to find more collaborations with a good knowledge of the observatory
It would always be a good idea to summarize the year towards its end. This year is the 1st year of my postdoc life, after graduating as a Ph.D. September last year. It has been a challenging year for me, transforming from a graduate student to an independent young researcher, especially as an ESO fellow (meaning that you are 100% independent).
It is not easy to build your own idea almost from scratch, but it is the skill that must be mastered if one wants to pursue an academic career path and finally become an independent researcher. That’s what I must learn. I had some new thoughts during the year but turned out to be “old ideas” or “unrealistic ideas” after discussing with senior astronomers. It was quite discouraging but they are the lessons to be learned. Besides, “networking” has also become a key skill to become a good researcher, and I need to work on my own to be known by other researchers and to build new collaborations. Thanks to ESO’s generous funding, I can afford to travel around the world to show my work in conferences and to build new connections. That’s one of the coolest parts of being an ESO fellow (another coolest part is to work with ALMA). But this is also a personal challenge for me as an introverted person, I sometimes find it very difficult to walk to people whom I’ve met for the first time (non-friends) and talk with them during the coffee break in a conference. In most of the cases, I found I was not sure what to say. That is the thing that I need to work out.
Anyway, I’ve learned a lot this year and the experiences have been very helpful. I really hope the summary of the year below can be doubled when I do the summary for 2019.
- submitted 1 first-author paper, under revision to be resubmitted
- published 7 co-author papers
- ALMA: 2B, 1C
- NOEMA: 3A
- JVLA: 1C
- APEX/SEPIA-9: 1A
- several co-I proposals, including a NOEMA large program
- 4 seminars talks @UV(Chile), Oxford(UK), Durham(UK), DWAN-DTU(Denmark)
- 1 conference contributing talk @Cambridge
- 1 invited talk in a symposium
- Professional service:
- ApJ referee
- Technical Secretary of the ALMA Cycle-6 Proposal Review meeting
Summary: Need to publish more first-author papers, to work more efficiently, and read more and discuss more to create new ideas on my own that have scientific impacts.