This page compiles useful resources relevant to the broad professional development of students and postdocs (as well as more senior researchers!). I’ve found these very useful myself, and I encourage young researchers to learn from others’ experience by having a look at some of these:
– Honing your Hubble application — an AstroBetter article on how to produce a strong postdoc fellowship application. Much of the advice given there applies to securing other positions in astrophysics.
– Chris Matzner’s page on “Resources for the ambitious undergraduate or beginning graduate researcher in astronomy & astrophysics” has more good advice, as well as many links to other resources.
– Steven Weinberg’s “Four Golden Lessons.” Note in particular the bit about starting to do research and picking up what you need along the way.
– John Johnson writes an excellent blog, covering a broad range of important issues in astronomy, including diversity and mental health. John has written a series of great posts on intelligence in astronomy and on increasing one’s impact and work-life balance through working efficiently. Following are some posts that I especially recommend:
- Maintain a professional web page
- A series of posts on (the different forms of) intelligence in astronomy.
- John also has a series of posts on ‘Work-Life Balance Through Working Efficiently.’ I especially recommend part 2 featuring ‘Always Be Writing’ and part 3 on avoiding the land of diminishing returns.
– Field medalist Terry Tao’s blog also has a number of great posts:
– How to make award-winning posters, by Jason Wright.
– An inspiring TED talk by Amy Cuddy on ‘faking it ’til you become it.’
– Marc Kuchner’s book on marketing for scientists
– Apply for fellowships. If you continue in academia, much of your career is going to rely on your ability to secure resources to support your research (funding, telescope time, computing time, …), so you should get all the practice you can writing strong proposals. And those skills are valuable outside academia as well.
Winning a graduate fellowship will help you in many concrete ways beyond the prestige of the fellowship. It might allow you to focus fully on your research, free up funds to allow you to travel to more conferences, etc. Graduate fellowships often represent a substantial amount of funding, and could also help your advisor hire other group members (such as a postdoc) or provide better computing resources. These will also benefit you, in addition to making your advisor proud and happy. Following are some fellowships to look out for:
- The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Usually due at the end of October. Make sure to polish your broader impacts in addition to your research statement! Must apply as an undergraduate, or during your 1st or 2nd year of graduate studies.
- The NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. Usually due at the very beginning of February.
- The BlueWaters Graduate Fellowship in petascale computing. Also due at the very beginning of February.
- The DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Due in January. Can only apply as a senior or first year graduate student.