Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

My own office

This weekend I went out to visit Research I University (R1U), where I will be a assistant professor starting in July. The whole trip was pretty amazing. We stayed in our new house (we just closed last week), sleeping in sleeping bags. We met with renovators to choose paint, tile, etc. I met with the Department Chair to discuss my arrival at R1U, and believe it or not I met with the university interior designer to design my office.

That was about the most amazing thing that has happened to me in some time. My grad school and postdoc experience has pretty much proceeded as follow.

PI: "Oh, you're here. Hmmmm. We have to find a place to put you...Hey Lab tech, do we have a desk for PhD Mom?"

Lab Tech: "Yeah we can put her next to the fume hood. But there is no desk or chair now"

PI: "Okay, great. PhD Mom, Lab Tech, can you guys go down to salvage and see if you can find a desk and chair."

[Walk down to Salvage]

Lab Tech: "Well this one looks good. We just need to glue that leg back on the desk and rip the hutch off. Maybe we can get a chair over there... If we use duct tape we can put the cushion back on. Yeah, I think this will work."

[Me sitting in new office. If I lean back too far I will tip over and hit my head on the floor. My desk is sturdy..sort of...don't try sitting on it. I am sitting next to a fume hood, where students are working with lovely, sulfur containing chemicals, and the nearest window is at least 3 offices away.]

Now, picture my experience at R1U.

Interior Designer: "Hello, my name is designer and I will be making your office comfortable. Have you given any thought to your color scheme?"

Me: "Uhhh..."

ID: "Well let's go look at your office so we can get some ideas."

[Walking to office. Office is well-lit with a large window. Two student desks and a set of book shelves (rickety) are currently inside. There is glass opposite the window looking into a shared vestibule where students can wait.]

Me: [Raising blinds to display breathtaking view of quad.] Wow.

ID: Oh, don't worry we can replace the blinds. Would you prefer wood slats or the standard white. The wood is more expensive, but many of the professors are going with it these days. It's a classier look."

Me: [Hesitantly] Wood?

ID: Great then that's settled. Okay, what kind of furniture will you need?

Me: Ummm, a book case or two, a couple filing cabinets, a desk, a chair, and chairs for students.

ID: Okay two book cases, we'll give you five high, that's standard, and for the filing cabinets lateral or vertical? Lateral gives you more room. And will you be filing legal or letter?

Me: Letter, Lateral is fine.

ID: Okay, two of those. The desk is fairly standard, but you can pick the finishes. There is wood-top, laminate in several colors. What would you prefer? [showing me color swatches].

Me: I can have cherry?

ID: Sure, that is a popular choice. And for the desk hardware, you can have these pulls [showing me pulls].

Me: [picking one up]Wow.

ID: Yes, that will go well with the cherry. The chair is fairly standard we are all using this 'really expensive chair.' Will that be okay for you?

Me: Absolutely.

ID: Okay now, we need to talk about chairs for students. We should probably pick carpet and paint and then design around that. Unless of course you would rather have tile. We can retile if you like.

Me: Umm, carpet?

ID: Okay, we have tons of colors what were you thinking?

Me: Something neutral.

ID: Okay [bringing out giant book of swatches]. What about these [dropping swatches in front of me one by one], do any appeal to you?

Me: [Eyeing the swatches, narrowing it down to 2-3] Well...

ID: That one is my favorite.

Me: Okay let's go with that.

ID: Okay. We should get paint to match, here is the paint pallet that comes closest to the carpet [handing me paint card.]

[I point to one]

ID: Yeah that one really brings out the carpet. Okay, now we need to get chairs for students. We can use 'expensive chairs' or 'really expensive chairs.'

Me: 'Expensive chairs' will be fine, thank you.

ID: Okay do you want chrome, wood, or black finish?

Me: Uhhhh...black?

ID: Okay, we need to choose seat cushions. Here are the samples that match the carpet and paint. [Handing me large book of swatches].

Me: Ummm... [fumbling with book for several minutes]...umm..this one?

ID: Great. Well I think that's about it. I will write all this up and send a quote to the department. From the time that we receive the okay, it should take about six weeks. When do you start?

Me: July [choked response, I am in shock]

ID: Okay that should be no problem. Would you like me to give you swatches of all the choices we've made.

Me: Ummm...no, that's okay. I don't want to carry it back with me in the luggage.

ID: Okay well we look forward to seeing you in July, Dr. Mom.

Me: Thanks.

[ID shakes my hand and walks away, as I am sitting dumbstruck in my new office.]

All I can say is wow!!!


At 12:46 PM , Blogger ScienceWoman said...

I wanna be a professor! I've been daydreaming about what my future office might look like. So far, I've decided that what I really need is a window and a door. I just want out of this windowless cube. The rest is all gravy.


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