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.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Faculty Packages

My sister is preparing her faculty application package right now, and I have been helping her revise it. Based on what I've seen I thought I'd offer a few tips for anybody out there preparing a package right now.

Cover Letter:
First Paragraph
Should address the university, department, and position applied for. It should reference any interaction that you've had with faculty at that school.
Second Paragraph
It should describe your PhD research and advisor, and any planned or completed postdoc experience and advisors. The expected available start date should be listed.
Third Paragraph
Your proposed research area should be described briefly along with a discussion of its impact. Try to include names of potential collaborators at the university you are applying to. Also, particularly important is a discussion of funding in the field (e.g., recently the US dedicated XX million dollars to the XX initiative for my field through NSF, DOD...etc).
Fourth Paragraph
You should describe why you are already nationally,internationally recognized including awards won, papers published, presentations given, and patents awarded (brief summary not detailed like in the CV).
Fifth paragraph
You should include a statement on teaching plans, a few sentences on your motivation to teach and a few sentences on the classes/area you would like to teach.
Last Paragraph
You should conclude with contact information, a summary of upcoming presentations, and a summary of why you fit the position description as published.

pretty standard but in general should list (probably in this order)
Education (include title of thesis, advisor(s) names, and GPAs)
Research Experience (list by position with bulleted list of major accomplishments)
Work Experience (list by position with bulleted list of major accomplishments)
Awards and Honors (most recent first)
Publications (separate by peer-reviewed journal, review articles, and peer-reviewed presentations in that order)
Presentations (separate by national and local)
Patents (if any)
Teaching Experience (include class taught, local course number, number of students and specific duties, if you lectured in place of the professor list how many times)
Service (include science fair judges, talks to general public, grad service commitees)
Extracurricular Activities
(list professional societies, and a couple of colorful outside activities that will describe your personality and give you something to discuss at interviews)

Research Plan: This is always the hardest isn't it. Include pictures, references, try to limit to 5 pages. Plan should include:
overview (executive summary): summarize your proposed research so that a scientist not in your field could understand without reading the rest of your package.
background: short lit review on your field and how you fit into it (i.e., why are you awesome vs. all the other stuff going on)
research ideas: usually 3 described in enough detail that someone would believe that you could do them, but not as much detail as in the methods section of a paper

Teaching Plan:
Paragraph 1
Include your teaching philosophy (but don't call it that with a header). Why do you want to teach vs. pursue a strict research career? How do you plan to motivate your students? What methods will you use to teach (socratic method, experimental/demonstration based, interactive questioning) Citing current education research is a HUGE plus.
Paragraph 2
Include the classes you with to teach, use course numbers from the university in question if possible, list undergrad and grad
Paragraph 3
Include a selection of classes you wish to develop and how they fit in with the department's current choices

And that's it, you have a great package. Easy right?


At 1:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe I am the first to comment on this fabulous post. Its not always easy to get such practical information. I love the blog and wish you continued success as you get settled.

Do you take requests for new posts? How about your favorite interview questions (tailored for technicians, students and/or post-docs)..you must be trying to fill you lab...how does someone make the cut?

another dr. mom

At 1:06 AM , Blogger not-yet-a-doctor said...

Thank-you for this resource. I will be putting together my first package soon (I am still finishing my PhD but have been asked to apply), so I am completely lost. My level of respect for my supervisor is lower than I expected it to be (partly due to his inability to hold women on level grounds to him and his male colleagues/students), so I don't feel all that comfortable asking him for assistance. Bottom line, I appreciate this post... a lot!!

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