Starting and growing your own research program
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Starting and Growing Your Own Research Program. Fatma Mili Professor & Dpt. Head Computer Information Technology Purdue University West Lafayette, IN. Amanda Stent Principal Research Scientist Yahoo! Labs New York, NY. Background – Amanda Stent. Research Areas

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Starting and Growing Your Own Research Program

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Starting and Growing Your Own Research Program


Professor & Dpt. Head

Computer Information Technology

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN

Amanda Stent

Principal Research Scientist

Yahoo! Labs

New York, NY

Background – Amanda Stent

  • Research Areas

    • Computational linguistics

    • Applications of NLP to assistive technology and online privacy

  • Where I’ve worked

    • Principal Research Scientist, Yahoo! Labs - current

    • Principal Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Labs – Research (6 years)

    • Assistant, then Associate Professor, Stony Brook University (7 years)

  • Where I studied

    • PhD, CS, University of Rochester

    • BA, Math and Music, Houghton College

Background – FatmaMili

  • In Academia since 1984

    • Program Verification and Validation

    • Distributed Computing and nature-inspired Computing

    • Statistical Validation of Non deterministic Systems

    • Optimization, Human Decision Making

    • System Modeling and Knowledge Representation

  • PhD, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France

Develop Your ReputationAcademia

  • Identify a strong research problem with clear short-term, medium-term and long-term goals

    • Do not heavily overlap with advisors or other faculty

    • Establish your laboratory as quickly as possible

    • Identify strong students

      • You can no longer do all the work yourself!

      • If you can, hire a post-doc, but do not replace students

    • Identify and apply to appropriate funding sources

    • Publish in the publications that matter the most

      Produce strong results that have an impact on the field!

Develop Your ReputationNational Lab or Industry

  • Identify how you can contribute to the organization while building your career

    • Develop your overall research and engineering capabilities

    • Establish your expertise/carve out your niche

    • Identify good collaborators and champions

    • Produce deliverables on time, show impact ($$) and relevance

    • Practice good, punchy short presentations/demos

  • Maintain your external visibility

    • Publish … or perish

    • Host interns and visitors, collaborate with academia

      Be ENTHUSIASTIC about what you are working on NOW!

Reputation = work + networking

  • Network

    • Attend Important Conferences

    • Volunteer in conferences and professional associations

    • Network

    • Help others

  • Self-promote

    • Cite your work

    • Give talks

    • Maintain your online presence

      • Your organization’s website

      • Your own website

      • Google Scholar/Microsoft Academic/Research Gate

      • Social media

Build Collaborations

  • Internal and external collaborators

  • People you enjoy working with

  • Compatible or complementary skill set

  • Junior researchers who are also starting research careers and have compatible skills

  • Senior researchers who think well of your work

  • Be generous with co-authorship on papers

Build Collaborations

  • Do

    • Communicate effectively and be responsible

    • Learn to multi-task

    • Have a contingency plan

  • Don’t

    • Be a “student” for someone else

    • Take it personally if a collaboration does not work

    • As a young post-PhD: Limit collaborations with advisors, carefully handle interdisciplinary collaborations, etc.

Develop Proposals

  • Look for new proposal opportunities

    • Early career proposal calls

    • As a collaborator/subcontractor

    • Internal funding grants

    • Travel grants

    • Private foundations or companies

    • Faculty Fellowships: AFOSR, NASA, etc.

  • Learn the rules and constraints of your organization with respect to funding

    • Human subjects, animals, environmental etc.

Develop Proposals

  • Learn how different organizations work and how they select proposals

  • Ensure that your proposal is a good fit for the call and addresses all review criteria

  • Serve on review panels

  • Talk to the program manager

Swim With the Sharks

  • Take credit for your work

  • Avoid working with people who do not give you credit for your work externally and internally

  • Present to senior researchers and managers (prepare in advance)

  • Learn how to give an elevator speech about your research

  • Meet the program managers who will have influence on your funding

    Do not be shy or understated, but don’t overstate either!

Enjoy what you do

  • Feel and share the passion and play in research

  • Pay it forward

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