Postdocs at ANU

Tony Licata and I are each now hiring a postdoc at the Mathematical Sciences Institute of the Australian National University.

We intend that these will be 2 year positions, with minimal teaching requirements.

There is an informal description of the jobs at, including some information about the grants funding these positions. The official ad is online at, and you can find it on MathJobs at

Please contact us if you have questions, and please encourage good Ph.D. students (especially with interests in subfactors, fusion categories, categorification, or related subjects) to apply!

University of Melbourne hiring

Often Australian jobs don’t make it on to, for various reasons, so I thought I’d help distribute this one — Melbourne is hiring, initially a full professor, and subsequently several tenure track assistant professor positions, all in pure mathematics.

Below the fold, Arun Ram’s message about this. Australia is a nice place to come and work!

Continue reading

Employment opportunities

Since we’ve already set the precedent that it’s OK to use the blog for job announcements, let me do a little promotion. My current home, Northeastern, has just posted postdoctoral and tenure-track job announcements. If people have questions about either position or life at NU, they are encouraged to email me (though there is a decent chance I’ll just refer you on to the appropriate authorities).

I particularly want to push the postdoctoral position, because, well, first of all I want to have a more talented postdocs around the department (more in number, no insult intended to our current postdocs); I’m also on the search committee for the position, so I have some responsibility to my colleagues to find good people to hire.

Furthermore, as we’ve discussed, titles for postdoctoral jobs are generally confusing; what exactly does “Research Instructor” mean? This is going to sound stupid, but it’s right there in the name; you’re supposed to do research and instruct people. We’re looking for people who will do both of those things well. Candidates are expected to be part of the research life of the department, and we are definitely hoping to find people whose interests overlap with faculty members here. We also take the teaching component of the job very seriously, but the teaching load is intended so that you have time to teach your classes well and work on other things; it is below Noah’s magic line at 3 semester courses a year.

Which is all a long way of saying I look forward to seeing your applications.

My plea failed; I’m curious why.

So, I put up a post a few days ago asking for people’s assistance making their old grant and job applications available. This turned out to be, as the kids say nowadays, an epic fail. I got no emails from anyone on the subject (well, William Stein replied affirmatively when I asked if he was OK with linking to his page), and one comment pointing to Dror Bar-Natan’s proposals which have been online for a long time (those of you who are paranoid about putting too much math information online should look at his webpage; it is a model of radical openness).

And now I’m really curious: that post had 400 website views and 1200 syndicated views since it went up. So on the order of 1600 people (of course, that’s not very accurate, but fine, whatever, 1000), at least a few hundred of whom are professional mathematicians who have looked for an academic job or applied for a grant before, looked at that post and decided not to put up their documents up or email them to me to put up on my webpage (or to email me about existing posted documents). Probably if you’re reading this now, you read that post and decided not to do that. And now I’m curious: why not?

Which is not to suggest that I can’t imagine a downside, but I’m curious what people think it is.

A plea for putting grant applications online

A few years ago, I decided as a public service to post my old job application materials online.  Hopefully they were helpful to a person or two out there in the world.  I also tried to make that blog post a bit of a hint to people that they could do the same; I know Noah did, and at least one other person said in comments to that post that they would as well.

The problem with such things is that they aren’t that easy to find even when people put them up.  Being an old fogey who (God I hope) won’t be applying for jobs any time too soon, I’m more interested in NSF grant applications (which while lower stakes than job applications are more mystifying), but I don’t see any need to make a distinction.  I think the world as a whole would be a better place if more people put these documents online.  In that vein, I have a two-part proposal.

  1. You (the internet) make your old job application materials and grant applications available online.  You, of course, should use your judgement about how recent to go and what to include.
  2. I will make a webpage collating these; if you put them on your own website, I will link to them.  If you want I can host the documents myself.  Obviously, if you’d prefer I didn’t link, that’s fine too.

I’ve put a “proof of concept” webpage up with a few examples I already know. I may look a little bit for more for examples people have posted, but mostly I’m hoping people will come to me (after all, I don’t want to give people publicity they don’t want).

Some advice on job hunting

Since Noah at some point produced some useful (if not unanimously endorsed) advice on graduate school, and the topic has been on my mind recently, I thought I would write a post on job-hunting. Interestingly, I’m not sure my 3 rounds of job applications have left me a lot wiser on the subject, but being a faculty member in a department doing a job search has been very educational, if only because it got me looking at the problem from the other side.  Anyways, I don’t claim that I have a very complete view of how to things work or to give comprehensive advice.  But there are some things that popped out at me that maybe candidates don’t know and should.  If I think of more, I might add them. Continue reading

On MathOverflow career advice questions

Since this blog has already spawned one rant about career advice on MO, I thought I would make a play for first post written for PlanetMO by commenting a little more on such questions. I’m of a very split opinion of such posts. On one hand, I think most of them are a bad fit for MO and it’s very hard to get good advice from them, given how little MO commenters know of the author. I’m moving more and more to a policy of writing this as a reply to essentially all such questions.

On the other hand, I feel tremendous empathy for the questioners, and really want to help them (seriously, I am announcing here, if you want to write an MO question asking for career advice, email me instead with actual details, and I will answer). Good advice is incredibly hard to get in general. The writer of this question has a genuine quandry, and I’m sure could benefit from discussing the matter with a more senior and experienced person, and I understand the temptation to use MO as a substitute for such a discussion.

Even worse, there’s some part of my psychology that makes it hard not to answer these questions (for example, I couldn’t help answering this question after it moved to math.SE). And there’s no compelling suggestion I have for where to go instead; it’s easy to say that you should discuss these things with a trusted older colleague (especially since its true), but not everybody has such people in their lives. Even though I certainly do, it hasn’t always been trivial to get good advice.

So, maybe the point I’m getting to at the end of this is, is there somewhere to send people? I really wish I had a place to send people like, say, the author of this post, since I think MO is not really filling her/his needs. If s/he doesn’t have someone to ask such basic questions of instead of MO, it’s hard to imagine s/he has someone to talk to about the more serious matters involved in switching jobs.

Job news

It’s a sad comment on the place of this blog in my thoughts that I’m putting a post here weeks after posting it on the Jobs Wiki, but better late than never: I’ve accepted a job at Northeastern University starting next year.  Since this is my chance to say so on the internet, let me say that this is not a reflection of any ill will on my part toward the University of Oregon, City of Eugene, Williamette River or the hypothetical nation of Cascadia.  In fact, it was a very tough decision because it was between two good options, but for a number of reasons, many of them personal, I decided the move made sense.

A public service announcement

At the request of Jim Humphreys, I’m making a little PSA about postdoctoral positions at UMass: there seems to have been some confusion over the labels used for the job searches on MathJobs.  The label “POSTDOC” is a position is statistics.  If you are not a statistician, and wish to have a job at UMass next year, make sure you applied for the Visiting Assistant Professor position, labeled “VAP.”

Just so there’s something for people to discuss: why is the mathematics community so bad at coming up with a unifying terminology for postdoctoral positions?  The academic ranks on the tenure track as named very consistently throughout the US in both public and private institutions, but postdoctoral ones are a very confusing mishmash.  You can be a “Fellow,” a “Instructor”, a “Professor” or even a “Member” with all kinds of possible adjectives without any kind of clear terminology behind them.  I’m sure this is mostly just for historical reasons, but is there any hope of rectifying the situation?

Postdoc at Oregon

Usually I wouldn’t bother to announce this here, but since the ad is going up (IMHO) extremely late in the season, I thought I would let people know that we will be hiring for a 3-year postdoc position at Oregon this year. It was posted on MathJobs today. There’s no limit in terms of subject aside being “of interest to the department.” Feel free to email me if you want more information.