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This presentation was designed to assist and educate the interviewee regarding campus culture and atmosphere, and was authored by Rebecca Richards-Kortum (BIOE) and Kathleen Matthews (BIOS).


  • Understand what you want to know
    • What is essential for your success and well-being in your career?
  • Identify the pathway to find the information you need - be proactive and use your resources (e.g., Web)
  • Reassess what is important in the context of reality

Three kinds of institutional support

  • Tangible resources
    • Space, salary, start-up, access to students
  • Institutional policies
    • Graduate study — reviews, support, opportunities to learn outside research
    • Department and university policies
    • Mechanism by which department operates
  • Intangible department support
    • Mentoring, advising
    • Culture, spirit, collegiality
    • Moral support, empathy


  • Space
    • How much do you need?
    • What is reasonable in the institutional context?
  • People
    • What do you need? Graduate stipends? Technical support?
    • What is reasonable in the institutional context?
  • Start up costs
    • What do you need?
    • What is reasonable in the institutional context?

Institution/department policies

  • Graduate student context
    • Stipend, training in speaking/writing, opportunities to present their work and receive feedback
  • Departmental context
    • Opportunities to invite senior faculty in for seminars
    • Mechanisms for effective mentoring (in or outside the department)
  • Institutional context
    • Leave policies (how are these viewed by Department?)
    • Resources for learning
      • Teaching
      • Grant-writing
      • Running a laboratory

Intangibles (may be most important!)

  • Mentoring — what happened to others?
    • Formal/informal
  • Advice on grants/manuscripts
    • Feedback mechanisms and support
  • Advice and feedback on teaching
    • Resources/handouts/exams
  • Positive and supportive climate
    • For whom?
  • Moral support
    • When the grant doesn’t come through…
  • Quality of life in the community
    • Public vs private institution
    • Cost of living
    • Daycare and schools
    • Size of the city/town
    • Job opportunities for a partner/spouse
    • Weather
    • Sports
    • Arts
    • Other interests
    • Other……

Types of environments

  • Supportive (understand what it means to be a junior faculty member)
    • Provide strong mentoring and support for teaching and research
    • Demand service, but do not overwhelm
  • Neutral
    • Don’t help, but not negative
    • Not supportive (“sink or swim”)
    • No support system
  • Critical and sometimes demeaning
    • Demand high levels of service
    • Senior faculty “eat their young” or “favored few”

What do you Want to know?

  • About the department?
  • About the School/College/Institution
    • But the overall context matters
  • How do you decide what to explore?
    • Priorities for you may differ from others
    • Think in many dimensions

Thinking about what you want

  • Brainstorming
    • What matters most to you?
    • Why?
    • Are you sure?
    • Can you imagine taking a job that does not fulfill your expectation in this realm?
    • What factors could compensate if this desire is not fulfilled?

Now that you know what you want to know...

  • You don’t want to appear as if culture matters more than science, so...
  • How do you find out this information safely ?

Two examples

  • How is TA support allocated?
    • Ways to ask that get you snowed
    • Ways to ask that get you the real answer
  • Maternity leave policies
    • Unsafe ways to ask
    • Safe ways to ask

How do you ask?

  • Brainstorming
    • What information do you want?
    • How can you think creatively about asking your questions?
    • What if you can’t figure out a way to ask?

What if you end up in a challenging culture?

  • Strategies for coping
    • Identify supporters within the department
    • Identify potential mentors outside the department
    • Say “no” when it seems safe to protect your time
    • Identify the value system and operate, to the degree possible, within that system


  • Think before you act
  • Reach out to your mentors for input
  • Reflect on your questions
  • Reflect on the information that you receive

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, 2009 nsf advance workshop: negotiating the ideal faculty position. OpenStax CNX. Feb 24, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11185/1.1
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