Career Profile: Anantha Aiyyer
Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University is a Public Land Grant university.
Click on a topic to read Anantha's answer to an individual question, or scroll down to read the entire profile: Educational background and career path * Early teaching challenges * Research transition * Institutional fit * Balancing responsibilities * Advice for new faculty
Briefly describe your educational background and career path.
I attended the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India and graduated with BSc. and Msc. in Physics. I became interested in atmospheric science and attended the University at Albany, State Univ. of New York where I earned my MS and PhD in Atmospheric Science. After a Post Doctoral research stint, I joined North Carolina State University as an Assistant Professor. I am currently an Associate Professor in the department of Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
What were some of the challenges you faced in your early years of full-time teaching? Could you briefly describe how you overcame one of those challenges?
Trying to spin up a research program while developing new courses took some effort. I set realistic expectations and worked gradually to build teaching and research portfolios. I am still working on refining my courses.
How did you make the transition from your Ph.D. research to your current research program?
I was interested in a topic that was somewhat related to my graduate research work. After identifying some interesting problems and avenues of new inquiry, I focused on getting proposals funded and was able to spin up a research program. I attempt to have a mix of MS and PhD level students in the group and work closely with them on research.
An essential component of achieving tenure is finding or making an alignment of your teaching/research goals with the goals of your institution.... How do your goals fit with those of your institution? Did you adjust your goals to achieve that fit? If so, how?
Our program follows guidelines from the American Meteorological Society and emphasizes a rigorous math and science based meteorology program. Our students have broad based skills that can be applied to either a job in the private industry or to research based advanced graduate degrees. The goals of our program align with those of the institution and no major adjustment was needed.
Many of the new faculty members in these workshops are interested in maintaining a modicum of balance while getting their careers off to a strong start. Please share a strategy or strategies that have helped you to balance teaching, research, and your other work responsibilities, OR balance work responsibilities with finding time for your personal life.
I felt that setting realistic goals and keeping an optimistic viewpoint was helpful to me. Avoiding departmental politics and being focused on research and teaching was also helpful. Learning to appreciate criticism from students, colleagues and paper/grant reviewers was key to avoiding excessive frustration.
What advice do you have for faculty beginning academic careers in geoscience? What do you know now that you wish you had known as you started your career in academia?
Pay attention to student feedback and fix deficiencies as soon as they are pointed out. If in a research program, publish regularly and volunteer for review panels and journal committees. Maintain an up to date, clean website.