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Navigating Graduate School and Beyond. Sundar A. Christopher Professor and Chairman Department of Atmospheric Science Associate Director, ESSC UAHuntsville. ( Outline. How did I get to this point? Advice that helped me? The best/worst parts of my job? My book.

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Navigating graduate school and beyond

Navigating Graduate School and Beyond

Sundar A. ChristopherProfessor and ChairmanDepartment of Atmospheric ScienceAssociate Director, ESSCUAHuntsville



How did I get to this point?

Advice that helped me?

The best/worst parts of my job?

My book

My journey

2) Rapid City, SD

44N, 103W (MS)

6) UK Met office

Exeter, UK, 50N, 3W






3) Fort Collins, CO41N, 105W(PhD)


INDIA, 11N, 77E(BE)

4) Huntsville, AL

35N, 87W(MA)


5) Sydney, Australia

34S, 151E

My Journey

Global Aerosol Distribution from Satellites

Career progression
Career Progression

M.S. > PhD > Assistant Professor

Typical career progression after that Associate Professor > Tenure > Full Professor and now the chairman

Also serve as Associate Director for ESSC - research center

Advice that helped me
Advice that helped me

Do good research

Stay on top of state of the art

Publish like crazy

Communicate effectively

Don’t get too big for your britches!

Why psychology degree
Why Psychology degree?

Industrial/Organizational Psychology has always been fascinating for me

I studied motivation and job satisfaction

Helps me in my current job to deal with students and faculty better – I think!

Best part of my job
Best part of my job

I thoroughly enjoy teaching

Light bulbs went on in my head during the radiation budget lecture (M.S) and I still do research in that area

Writing papers/proposals

I get excited when students succeed at the highest levels including winning awards (One of my students is a PECASE award winner, $1M for research!)

Worst part of my job
Worst part of my job

Encountering leadership in

academic chain of command

who do not have a vision and serve primarily as wet blankets

(OK, I got that out of my system)

Needless meetings/Administrative trivia

Seeing students/faculty perform below potential

Not being able to stop and smell the roses!

Why the book
Why the book?

  • Primarily written for graduate students and their advisors

  • I teach this as a 1 credit course in the ATS department every Fall semester

  • Students often do not know how to effectively navigate graduate school and beyond

  • Advisors have a professional obligation to empower students beyond classes and research

Without vision there is chaos
Without vision there is chaos

Need to know where you are going – while in graduate school

Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat (SWOT) analysis is a must

Where do I want to be? Where am I now? How am I going to get there?

Huge vision
Huge vision

A resume should only be a place holder

If you did the right things in graduate school, jobs should come looking for you!

Manage your advisor boss
Manage your advisor (Boss)

Know what your advisor expects of you – especially if you are on a research assistantship

Do you know their strengths and weakness?

Mentor versus advisor – beware!

Work ethics
Work ethics

Time management – Stay organized

Project Management

Life management

Become a resource center


Grad school is a fantastic time in your life


There are smart ways to ditch a formal dissertation

Write peer reviewed papers

Yes, you can write a proposal while in graduate school – ATS 782 provides a complete experience for proposal writing


You need to learn how to communicate in formal and informal ways while in graduate school

Attend a conference and learn how to network

Work in teams (all of this is preparation for your real job to come)


Know where you want to go and then diligently prepare for that goal – Without vision there is Chaos!

Learn how to serve various communities (local, regional, national) while in graduate school

Private organizations? If that is your goal, know what skills they need

Navigating graduate school and beyond

Navigating Graduate School and Beyond

7. Proposals

Why Write a Proposal

Budgets/The Actual Proposal

Top Ten Dos for Proposal Writing

Proposal Review Process/Proposal Evaluation

8. Communicating

Learn to Talk/Conferences

9. Teams

Pick your team/Become a Team Player

10. Jobs

Danger of Not Finishing

Staying on/Postdoc

Get a Job/Job Interview

11. Career Exercises

Job Hunting and CV Exercises

Proposal Writing Exercises

12. Concluding Thoughts: The Final Word


1. Introduction

2. Sowing

Cast a Vision/Do a SWOT

Avoid the Resume

3. Your Advisor and You

What Your Advisor Expects from You

Manage Your Advisor

4. Skills

Work Ethics for a Graduate Student

Take Initiative: Becoming a Resource Center

Take Ownership

Work Hard and Smart/Be Whole

  • 5. Organize.

    Manage Your Time/Beat the Stress

    Don't Get Weary

    6. Writing

    Ditch the Dissertation/Write a Paper

Final slide
Final Slide

Shameless plug : Read my book on Navigating Graduate School and Beyond