Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Faculty Search Continues (and Will Finish!)

As I mentioned before, UNC is currently doing an astro faculty search. Today they had the final candidate give a colloquium, out of five total candidates they brought in for final interviews. I previously told about the first two candidates. So the final three have ranged from extremely interesting to down right boring.

Last week we had a candidate from Germany. Like the others he was very smart but I get the sense that if he were teaching a class he would quickly loose the students unless they already knew what he was talking about. In other words, they would have already needed to take the class to understand him. I really don't have much I can say about him.

The candidate from today is actually a postdoc at UC-Irvine, Taotao Fang. While his research seemed rather interesting and he also gave the impression that he would be able to do a lot of research and be a good paper mill, I also got the impression that that would be all he would do. That is, he would not be a good teacher, which this department is desperately looking for (they have good ones, they are just busy with other things, like being the dean and the chair, and expanding their multi-million dollar business, and making spectrometers for 4 m telescopes, etc.). His presentation was rather unfortunate (Joe you don't have to tell him I said this, I would rather you didn't), because he had 3 professors fall asleep during his talk (they sit on the hiring committee), so I don't think he made a good impression.

But the person I'm personally rooting for is TJ Cox, currently a postdoc at Harvard. He spoke earlier this week and he made an extremely good impression on certain key faculty members. His talk was well prepared, relevant to everyone (not just the astro people) and made sense. I think freshmen could understand most of it, which is a good indication that he would be an excellent teacher. To give you an idea of what he does he has a video on youtube that simulates a galaxy merger (he wrote the merger code and someone else wrote the radiative transfer code). It wowed many people in the department, and made a big hit.

Personally I think that he will be the one that will get the job. I'm hopeful because if he comes here I would definitely end up working with him. Like I said, I think he has the best chance, and I think he has a friend on the inside (a fellow faculty member here in the department that also did a postdoc at Harvard, and she is on the hiring committee). So having friends and connections helps.


  1. Your secret's safe with me. I hope you get the right hire. I enjoyed the video.

  2. Of course I published it to the internet so...

  3. hmm, now I know why I didn't get hired ...


To add a link to text:
<a href="URL">Text</a>