My initial plan was to apply for academic jobs this December. I didn’t do it. Here are my reasons:
- Overall economic situation. The financial crisis significantly lowered endowments of universities and colleges. Departments are cautious, so they are not hiring new faculty. Even some positions that were announced were later cancelled. At the same time many people from the finance industries lost their jobs and are attempting to enter academia. Thus the supply of academic jobs decreased and the demand increased at the same time, lowering my overall chances drastically.
- My research progress. My curriculum vitae is not where I want it to be. My papers have just been accepted, but have not yet been published. And usually a reputation generated by a good paper comes with a time delay after its publication, especially for new people in the field. My CV has improved, but I haven’t built my name yet.
- My mathematical voice. In my previous life I didn’t trust my heart in my research. I followed the advice of my colleagues, friends and husbands in choosing the problems for my research. Now I am trying to follow my heart. What I produce now is very different from what I used to do. Previously I worked on representation theory, string theory, integrable systems, quantum groups, networks, optimizations and so on. My new results are in combinatorics, recreational mathematics, algorithms and applied probability. I need more time for my mathematical voice to reach its full potential range.
- Recommendation letters. People from whom I used to request recommendation letters know my old results and are experts in the areas in which I no longer work. So I need to find new people in my new areas who like and appreciate my results.
- My goal has become more specific. I like entertaining people with mathematics so I want this to be a part of my job. I also enjoy blogging and popularizing mathematics. I would like to reach a large group of people to teach them about the beauty and the real-life use of mathematics. What I really want is to be a professor of recreational mathematics. Unfortunately, such a position doesn’t yet exist.
That’s why my next step must be to persuade a university or a college that they need a professor of recreational mathematics. It is obvious that such positions are needed. Recreational mathematics is the only existing field of mathematics that is very popular, but not represented in math departments. After all, recreational mathematics is very important in popularizing mathematics, in bridging the gap between the advanced research and common folks. Recreational mathematics is vital in energizing American math education in general.
Hey, are you a math faculty member? If you agree with me, talk to your Head of Department about this idea, especially if you live in the Boston area. Then give me a call.