darb.ketyov.com

Caveat lector: This blog is where I try out new ideas. I will often be wrong, but that's the point.

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13.11.14

The tenure-track: The first months

Apparently people read this blog and have noticed I’ve not updated in a few months. People are all like, “hey man, what happened to your bloviating?”

Here’s the (shocking!) gist: moving to a new city, starting a faculty job, writing a book, having a second child, and creating a new class from scratch has been somewhat time consuming.

My burgeoning lab has just been renovated.

Voytek lab: pre-renovation (L) and post-renovation (R)
I’ve got one post-doc (Erik Peterson) working with me, two PhD students with two more rotating, and one more post-doc joining in early 2015. I’m the diversity chair for Cognitive Science and a diversity committee member for neuroscience (positions I take very seriously and is a topic near and dear to my heart). I’m constantly busy playing catch up, trying to finish up my post-doctoral research while also trying to establish my scientific independence and build my own lab.

Where does that leave me now that I’m a few months in?

Mentorship is difficult, and I’m trying to do well by my trainees. As a mentor there’s a balance between giving guidance and providing freedom, and I’m still learning that.

I (very amicably and somewhat sadly!) resigned my position as data scientist at Uber, mostly because I was too busy and, between my family, my lab, and Uber, something had to give and it wasn’t going to be my family or my lab. So my nearly four-year-long side career in helping build out a multi-billion dollar multi-national company has come to an end (and I could write a whole book about that, probably).

That decision lead me to reassess life and career choices yet again.

I recently gave a talk at TEDxSanDiego about failure, the “passion trap”, and the narratives we tell ourselves. We love a good narrative, and for the past 10 years my personal narrative has been one of a failed student reformed as a neuroscientist. That’s mostly the narrative I’ve shared here on this blog. But I want to make sure I’m not getting caught up in my own narrative and that I don’t pigeonhole myself into a particular way of thinking.

The Uber thing was partially an attempt at pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and away from my neuroscience narrative. Same with writing the zombie book (Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? now available for sale on Amazon or as an audiobook on Audible BUY IT NOW). In fact, when I’m presented with a new opportunity, one of the major factors in my decision making is, “how weird/novel is this opportunity?”

So I’ve made several deviations in my career but I keep coming back to neuroscience research. I’m just a few months into the tenure-track, and while it’s been a hell of a thing, I have little doubt that I’ve made the right choice. While I’m working a lot, I’m still able to hold evenings and weekends as protected family time, with most weekends spent with my kids at musea, the beach, the zoo, and so on.

Anyway, this is all just a bunch of words to put down on here to excuse my absence so I can get back to writing other stuff.