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New Professors

Jacob appreciates how the geology and physics departments involve students in the process of hiring new professors.

Jacob appreciates how the geology and physics departments involve students in the process of hiring new professors.

Over the past several weeks, two of my favorite Carleton departments have been in the process of hiring new professors — the physics department is hiring an experimental physicist, and the geology department is hiring a paleoclimate scientist. The majority of the process is conducted by professors, who post the job description, read applications, and meet with candidates. After narrowing the field, the department brings the top few candidates to Carleton, where they meet professors, students, and administrators.

In both the physics department and the geology department, candidates interact with students in a few main ways. Each candidate teaches a mock class and presents their research to give students a sense of the material they can teach as well as the research topics they will bring to Carleton. Candidates also interact with students in informal settings like campus tours and meals.

I went to all the physics research talks, and I ate lunch with and attended the research talk of one geology candidate. The physics talks were interesting and focused on research topics from biophysics to plasmas. Even though I am a physics major, I was most interested in the geology candidate’s research talk on ocean biochemistry. The candidate spoke about her at-sea research collecting ocean samples from the North Pacific and analyzing chemicals in the lab. Speaking with her at lunch gave me the opportunity to ask about her experiences in oceanography and about the undergraduate research opportunities she will create at Carleton.

After all the candidates visited campus, both departments held another meeting for students who had attended events to give feedback on each candidate. We said what went well, what went poorly, and how we reacted to each person. While many factors influence who is eventually hired, I admire that both departments actively seek student input and demonstrate their commitment to hiring professors who prioritize students. Carleton will be lucky to hire any of the candidates selected for these positions!

Jacob is a senior physics major interested in climate science and oceanography. Jacob enjoys eating, sleeping, and hanging out with friends — the simple things in life. At Carleton, Jacob works in the physics department and captains the Gods of Plastic, Carleton’s nationally competitive Division III men’s ultimate team. Meet the other bloggers!