Career Profile: Dana Royer
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college, primarily undergraduate, but offers a Master's program in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department.
Click on a topic to read Dana Royer's answer to an individual question, or scroll down to read the entire profile: Educational background and career path * Current job responsibilities * Best part of the job * Challenges and strategies * Qualifications * Balancing work and life * Advice
Briefly describe your educational background and career path.
Briefly describe your current job responsibilities, perhaps by describing a typical day, week, or semester.
With that preamble for context, during the academic year my typical day is split ~50/50 between research and teaching. The teaching load is not heavy (2/1, with labs counting as full courses), but because teaching is taken seriously (think small New England liberal arts school) we spend a lot of time with students.
What do you like best about your work?
- The balance between teaching and research. Neither dominates the other, and they feed back on one another.
- The quality of the undergraduate students. They keep me honest.
- The congenial, positive atmosphere among the faculty in my department. This makes a huge quality-of-life difference.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?
What qualifications do you think made you competitive in your job search(es)?
- Research accomplishments;
- Knowledge of the department (the internet is your friend here) and the ability to make the case that I belong in the departments in which I applied for jobs;
- Teaching. My last year as a post-doc at Penn State, I volunteered to teach a large introductory course. It was trial-by-fire for sure, but it demonstrated to liberal arts schools that I considered teaching important;
- Luck :) I hit the job market for three years, had interviews in the last two, and offers only in the final year. Part of this improvement with time was no doubt experience, but luck was important too. It's difficult to know ahead of time exactly what a department is looking for in a new hire.