Monday, 28 February 2011


I have been in Scandinavia for two months now, and this weekend I decided that it was time to see if I could learn anything of the local geology on line, since the rocks are still too snow covered to be revealing many of their secrets to my own observations. So I called upon Google, as you do in such situations, and requested information on "Luleå geology". Much to my surprise the first hit was an announcement of a faculty position at the local university, the one within walking distance of my new home. They are looking for someone to teach ore deposit geology and conduct research on that topic. The translation of their ad says that this means that one uses "geochronology, isotope geochemistry, tectonics, structural geology, mineralogy, etc. to explain and describe the processes by which metals are transported, concentrated and precipitated".

This description made me smile; while I have not focused upon ore deposits in my own research their list of tools used is pretty much a one to one match to the list of research interests/tools on my CV. Reading the fine print of the ad I see that previous experience in research on the topic of "malmkaraktärisering" (ore characterisation) is "meritorious", rather than "required". This, too made me smile; I may not have done much with ore deposits myself, but I am a graduate of CODES: the Centre for Excellence in Ore Deposit Research at the University of Tasmania—all of the short courses and most of the seminars I attended were on ore deposit research of one sort or another, often sharing very cutting edge research or technological applications. Therefore, while I may not have the "meritorious" advantage of having done my own research on the subject, I have absorbed a fair bit of information on the topic over the years, and have a good idea of which colleagues to turn to if I have questions on any particular topic in the field.

While writing the application (read: taking information from my CV and inserting it into their template) I thought about what to put into the "future research" section of the document. This caused me to recall a particularly interesting seminar talk while I was still at CODES, so I e-mailed the speaker and let him know that I was preparing the application and would be interested in doing collaborative research using that technology should I be the successful applicant. Much to my delight I received an encouraging reply in plenty of time to include his name in the application. He also reminded me that the honorary doctorate degree he'd received a couple of years back happens to have come from this university. I am taking this as a positive sign, and happily turned in my application this morning (today being the application deadline—I saw the ad only just on time!).

I have no idea how I will do with this application—it matters as much what the other applicant's packets contain as it does what I have included in my own, but I am confident that should I be the lucky winner in this case I will be able to do the job, and do it well. How lovely it would be to be able to work in the town I have chosen for personal reasons. However, if it doesn't work out I am certain that I will enjoy whatever path I do take…

Thursday, 10 February 2011

too busy too be bored; too happy in the north to want to move south

I have some friends who are unemployed and looking for work who complain on certain social media sites that they are bored. My contract ended with the end of December, so, technically, I am also unemployed, but I am far, far too busy to be bored (as people might be able to guess if they compared frequency of my posts before and after the contract ending).

What am I doing to keep busy? I'm getting close to done processing the data I generated during the last couple of weeks before I left; I should be able to actually begin the writing process within a week. I'm settling into a new home with a new partner in a new country, and trying to learn a new language. Our evenings are full with folk dance classes, choir practice, gaming with friends, visiting a local climbing wall, martial arts practice, and, of course Medieval Re-enactment. My days are full with finishing up my last research project, trying to keep up with personal correspondence, studying my new language and attending class for that, dealing with the bureaucracy at the Uni (why do they need copies of my highschool, BS, and Master's transcripts before they approve my enrolment in a beginning language class when they have my PhD transcripts? (Doesn't the one sort of imply the existence of the others?) I am also starting the paperwork for appropriate visas to actually be able to stay here.

I'm also continuing the job search, but now that there are two of us to consider I'm being a bit fussier about the jobs for which I will apply—I have never been interested in hot climates, but had been applying for interesting sounding jobs located in such places anyway, with the thought that I could endure hot weather for a short time and then when I have more experience move on to someplace with good weather. Now that I'm happily living somewhere far enough north to have real winter I am much less inclined to consider locations without winter, and my partner, like me, loves the snow and cold weather.

I listen to friends who live in more southern locations complain about winter—that it is cold, dark, wet, and depressing. I am convinced that the reason they think this is because they are too far south. Up here in the north (though still south of the Arctic Circle) winter may be cold, but it isn't wet, and it isn't dark or depressing. Instead the snow reflects light beautifully, making even overcast days brighter than their counterpart down south. And day, like today, when there are no clouds, are sometimes overwhelmingly bright. Yes, the sun does set early, but we are living in a town, which means that there are street-lights, which means that the snow is reflecting that light all night long, so visibility is good and it is neither dark, nor depressing.

I have been saying for a decade that I really miss real winter. Now that I have it again I don't wish to move somewhere without it. Now for the fun part: either finding an academic job which will let me do interesting research and live in the north (but with mountains, too, please!), or obtain funding which will let me choose my own location to live and do research…