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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

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
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 fatma mili
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 reputation academia
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 reputation national lab or industry
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
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
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 collaborations1
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
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 proposals1
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
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
Enjoy what you do
  • Feel and share the passion and play in research
  • Pay it forward
  • Please visit