Career Profile: Ed Harvey

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a university with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Ed Harvey
is one of the leaders of the 2011 Preparing for an Academic Career in the Geosciences Workshop. Prior to the workshop, we asked each of the leaders to describe their careers, for the benefit of workshop participants, by answering the questions below.

Click on a topic to read Ed Harvey
'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.

I received my BS in Geology/Geophysics from Olivet Nazarene College in 1986, my MS in Hydrogeochemistry from Purdue University in 1990, and my PhD in Hydrogeology from the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) in 1996. Following graduate school, I took a faculty position at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (UNL), Nebraska. My appointment at UNL includes research, teaching, and I'm a state geologist with the Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division (Nebraska's Geological Survey). I've been at UNL the past 16 years. My research focuses on groundwater dependent ecosystems and I teach courses in water science, hydrology, and groundwater.

Briefly describe your current job responsibilities, perhaps by describing a typical day, week, or semester.

My typical day is balancing several undergraduate and graduate courses related to water, advising my graduate students, attending one meeting or another, and trying to find a little time for myself to do some research, write a paper or grant, or to collaborate with colleagues.

What do you like best about your work?

Working with my graduate students on their research projects and teaching my graduate level courses. I also enjoy collaborating with non-university scientists around the state.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?

Learning to balance my work life with my private life and to not take on too many tasks so that I become unproductive and stressed. I've learned my limits over the years and I don't hesitate to say no to a new committee assignment or to pass on taking on too many projects or graduate students such that I preserve a little time for myself and that I leave myself sufficient time to accomplish my goals/tasks for the projects I do agree to lead.

What qualifications do you think made you competitive in your job search(es)?

I think having a degree from Waterloo (the top university program in hydrogeology), extensive field experience, and my interest in public service and survey work made me more competitive.

Many of the graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in these workshops are interested in balancing a family and career, in dual career couple issues, and in how other personal choices affect the search for a fulfilling career. Please share information about your situation, your ideas and experiences.

I decided early on that I would not let my pursuit of tenure and promotion dominate my life. So, I worked hard 5 days a week, and saved the weekend for myself. I did work longer hours and on occasion gave up a Saturday to work on something, but I stayed true to my promise and found that taking the time to relax on the weekend made me much more productive during the week. I also engaged in non-academic hobbies and interests including music, theatre, cycling, softball, etc. to give my mind and body something to do besides work.

What advice do you have for graduate students or post-docs preparing for academic careers in geoscience? What do you know now that you wish you had known as you started your career?

Don't just take the first job that comes along, take the one that best fits you and the one you want. Put yourself and your family ahead of your work. Work hard, but play hard as well and find balance. Tenure is not the monster everyone thinks it is. If you set realistic goals for yourself based on your departments expectations and you work hard during work hours, stay focused and protect your time from wasted efforts and service, you will get tenure and it won't cost you seven years of your family and personal life.