23 November 2009

So... what are you going to do next?

Abandoned boots in a southwestern Irish fog

Since I finished my defense, a lot of people have been asking me "So... what are you going to do next?" I'm not sure what they expect me to answer. Disneyland? More travel? Work? *GASP* Another PhD?

To be fair, no one who has completed a PhD has asked me this question. But I suppose it is a valid question.  It feels like I have just run an ultramarathon though, so give me a second to catch my breath please.  :)  

To tell the truth, I really just want to travel for fun. Take pictures and talk to folks because I'm having an adventure, not because I need data. Go for a really long walk. Meditate on the meaning of life. Chill out.

I actually do have some idea of at least the immediate future. After I graduate on 18 December (YAY!), I will be heading to France on the 21st for a two week stay with my good friend Anne.

Anne is an anthropologist who works in Paris. She was a postdoc in the Coweeta LTER lab (I have office space in the lab), but before that I toured her field site in southern France as part of a historical ecology field school. I will be going with her to Brittany (where her family lives) for Christmas and then we will be in Paris for New Year's. Other than hanging out with Anne, and maybe seeing the catacombs in Paris, I am leaving this trip up to the Adventure Fairy. Hopefully, I will have internet access at some point and can post pictures.

This trip is the culmination of a grand conspiracy by Anne and my other good friend John. John is an archaeologist who manages the Coweeta Lab in Baldwin and does all the tech stuff for Coweeta LTER. He might do other stuff, but I'm not sure. Anyway, he has connections with Delta and hooked me up with a cheap ticket to Paris. Both John and Anne are recent PhDs, and remembering their experience didn't want me to get into a funk. They also wanted to make sure I got a break before starting my new job (although they didn't know I would have a job when they started planning). John and Anne are two really amazing friends. THANKS!!!!

That's right. I have a postdoc fellowship starting in January at Penn State. I will be working in the Geography Department on a climate change project. Actually, the exact title is Climate Change Adaptation: Complex Challenges for Resilience under Climatic Uncertainties. Part of this project involves working with farmers, aid agencies, cooperative extension agents, universities in-country, etc. as a facilitator for iterative social learning so that folks can make their own decisions and come up with plans to adapt to climate change. It means that I will be going back to Africa as well - Ghana and Tanzania (possibly, I hope, Mozambique).

The position advertisement appeared on the EANTH listserve and then was sent to me directly by two of my committee members. I applied, kept working on my dissertation, and was contacted for an interview. My committee was contacted for reference letters. Dr. T interviewed me via Skype and 2 days later emailed me to offer the position.

Did I mention that the morning of the interview, my new postdoc adviser emailed me to ask for my CV? I was so nervous I forgot to include it in the original email application. I don't recommend this. I got incredibly lucky and must have had really good recommendation letters. Hard work and showing up does pay off in the end.

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