Saturday, August 8, 2009

Introduction Part 1

I have been lurking on several other science related blogs, and am enriched by them. But I didn't find a lot about scientists who spend most of their time teaching, nor about couples who have a commuter marriage. Therefore, I start mine with the hope that this will be an anonymous outlet. I would love to hear back from others in this situation.

The hubster and I met when we were both at Urban Med Center. I was a PhD student in the same department that he was a post-doc. We should have known right there that we'd have the famous "two body problem" not of physics, but of scientific couples with similar fields who will need to find work in the same location. As I neared my defense day and started looking for postdocs, we weren't sure of the commitment of our relationship, and so I looked independently of him, and found a great post doc at International Prestigious Research Institute. Then the boyfriend started to look in the same country for his next post-doc. He found a job, not only in the same country, but right upstairs from me in the lab of Really Famous Guy. We both really enjoyed the overseas lifestyle, and had success in our post-docs. Not smashing success, but we both had relatively good papers. Year 2.5 of my postdoc, I noticed and opening on the web for professorship at Small Religious College of my religion. It seemed like my dream job, since even though I really liked working in the lab, my draw was to teaching. I asked the boss at that time if he thought I was ready to apply for professorships, and he said "It will be good practice". So I applied.

The institutional fit was so good, that I interviewed and was hired. The only job I applied for I got. And it is my dream job. I teach 3 courses a semester, lectures and labs, from a class size of 2 - 60 students. No TAs, I grade every shred I assign. No lab prep help. If I can rope a work-study into helping me set up labs, that's good, but I typically make all my own solutions, etc. for labs. It is definitely a heavy work load, but I love the lecturing and the interaction with students that I get from teaching the labs. I love to see them learn stuff and develop and grow. And when they have that "aha!" moment, I get a huge reward (release of dopamine!). I also have a little lab in which students work for a summer or a few semesters. We're doing fine work in there, and I hope to write a paper soon with a bunch of undergraduate authors. Hopefully more about that soon.

The boyfriend stayed international for my first year of teaching, and we commuted internationally a few times a year. When I was overseas to visit him, he surprised me with a ring over dinner, and I accepted. We married, and he commuted between his international job and here for 3-4 months. Then we learned we were pregnant. Hubby/ Daddy decided to come home, and applied to everything remotely related here in this Small Southern College town, to no avail. He worked odd jobs and volunteered to keep himself busy, and did the computer commute with his old lab for about 1.5 years. After applying to about 6-7 positions at Huge Teaching University in this town, without success, he broadened his search, and found a perfectly suited job in Suburban University. He got a small basement apartment there and comes home on the weekend. Now we have a small child (da Boy), whom I care for full time in the weeks. I am a single mom for 5 days, and I find it pretty tough. Will continue this story soon.


  1. it's interesting, this choice with family and work.... I have sort of chosen not to write too much about my family situation at all but focused more on venting my post doc and my thoughts and feelings about other things... The family issues do feel a bit too private at the moment, the thoughts about the future about children etc . I look forward reading more from yuo though. More brave than I am or what ever you can call it.

  2. My husband and I have a similar commuting relationship, except that I am the one with the small apartment, and we do not yet have kids. I give you a lot of credit for making this work. I can't make it a full week away, and come home every Wednesday night, despite the drive. I am a grad student right now (my husband is a prof at a PUI) and we have vowed not to live apart from each other again. How that may affect our careers is a tough question we have yet to fully broach. I'll be interested to follow along with you on your journey. Good luck!

  3. I just found your blog (via Prof-like Substance), and I'm looking forward to reading more. My husband and I are just in the midst of figuring out what our next step will be - he is applying for jobs, and I will go with him and (hopefully!) find something nearby. I'm also interested in a teaching-only position, so I'm hoping you'll have lots to say about your job as well! Welcome to the blogosphere!

  4. I just found your blog from Isis and I've already gone through most of it! My husband commutes to far off land for 4 days a week and I am a postdoc looking for a job at a PUI. Thanks for sharing great insight!

  5. PUI,

    I feel your pain, I was a single mom of 1 kid for 2 years after accepting my tenure track position, until hubby relocated. It is hard...
    I know three other couples who have been doing the commuting, one couple for 20+ years now! We are very fortunate to be together now.