The Sassy Scientist – Out of Orbit

The Sassy Scientist – Out of Orbit

After reading last week’s post Ilona asks how to switch research topics to something more impactful during their lifetime:

How do I transition from a PhD in mantle convection to a postdoc in satellite geodesy?

Dear Ilona,

What a moon-shot you are aiming for! But, have no fear, nothing is impossible. Undoubtedly, space is cool. And looking from a distance at our lovely rock spinning and floating through space is even cooler.

Your career pivot is quite wise, as you would eventually be able to go in industry and escape the academic pyramid scheme. So make sure you highlight all the [buzzword!] transferable skills you gained during your PhD.

First, you have to sell your PhD work as the most important, humanity-saving challenge of our times. After all, is there really something more important than two phase models under the mid-Atlantic ridge? You need to show them you can work on important, big problems, and have a broad knowledge and appreciation for the Earth.

Secondly, if there is something the rest of the geo-world is jealous on modellers for, are the coding skills! You probably have those sweet, money-making programming skills everyone hopes to develop during their PhD, but give up after the first Coursera homework. You know how to manage large datasets and make simulations with way too many variables. You probably know obscure programming languages and how to use niche libraries someone else developed during their PhD 10 years ago. That’s the key skill you want to drop, and as you know my advice is always to keep up with the times, also make sure to name drop the coolest #AI #blockchain techniques you read on Twitter.

Spam Reach out to many possible PIs and make sure to apply the advice from me. Eventually, you will find a research group to fuel your new passion. Then, I am sure this postdoc will become your launchpad to space!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Maybe read the Wikipedia page on satellite geodesy too…

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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