Thursday, February 25, 2010

Work, work, that's all I ever do around here

In addition to my full time job as a postdoc/technician for a government agency grinding up mosquitoes and extracting their DNA in the name of science, I also teach one course at the local community college. It was something that I decided to pursue about a year ago, when I gave a talk at work and a couple of people remarked that it looked like I'd make a good teacher. I'm apparently swayed by flattery, because here I am, the second semester into it.

Let me say I love to teach. The students are generally responsive, and it makes me feel like I'm giving something back. The grading takes a long time, but after the grueling first semester of getting lectures ready (sometimes the morning they were supposed to be presented), I'm a little bit ahead, although it's still a 15-20 hour a week deal. I was really hoping there would be an opening locally for me to do this full time, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

The time it takes to do both the regular job, and the teaching job has had an impact. When I feel stressed about the class, I don't sleep well, and that pisses me off a little. I've come to realize I just can't do both, and have instructed a couple of friends to dope-slap me (metaphorically, please) if I get the notion to do this again in the fall. I've already declined summer classes, as I want to be able to do stuff in the evenings, will be traveling for work and vacations, etc.

Things have been a wee bit tentative at regular work lately, and it swings back and forth between "we don't know if our program is going to survive" to "we'll be OK". My boss is planning on field work for this summer, so that's a sign to me that he's assuming that we contractors will be around for another year. I've recently finished up a project and submitted the manuscript to be published, and am working on a couple of new projects that I'm enjoying, so this is good news indeed.

I've worried before about not working with plants, as that was my major in school, but it turns out mosquitoes, by virtue of the fact that each is an individual, yet there aren't really the ethical concerns about killing them for science, are good study organisms for the evolutionary biology questions I'd like to answer in plants anyway. So I've more or less decided that I'll stay here as long as they'll have me. The money is good, it's local and the hours are flexible. Overall, it lets me do the other things in life I want to do, and once I shake this class in early May, I'll be freed up to do that stuff. Like getting more involved in the sustainable agriculture movement here.


  1. I taught preschool for several years, but felt the need to leave 2 years ago. I loved it and miss it, but it just didn't fit for awhile. Hoping someday it may fit back in again. My first class can be found as High School juniors this year..they turned out pretty well!

  2. KS - It's funny, as time goes on, I'm feeling more comfortable with having my job being something I like, and do well, and leave at work at the end of the day to pursue the stuff I'm really passionate about. I think that's something like balance...


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.