NISS Affiliates Describe Open Academic Positions and Give Down-to-Earth Advice

Murali Haran (Penn State) reviews open positions within his department.Tian Zheng (Columbia) describes the range of positions her department is looking to fill.Joshua M. Tebbs (South Carolina) walks through the aspects of multiple job offerings available in his department.Tian Zheng (Columbia) responds to a question posed by session moderator Irina Gaynanova (Texas A&M).

Three NISS Affiliate institutions were represented by faculty intimately familiar with the hiring process. They included Murali Haran, Professor of Statistics and Head of the Department of Statistics at Penn State University, Tian Zheng, Professor of Statistics and Chair of the Department of Statistics at Columbia University and Joshua M. Tebbs, Professor of Statistics and Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of South Carolina.  (see Event page)

1)  The Good News!  All three academic departments are seeking to fill multiple positions within their departments!  

2) The Even Better News!  Each of these panelists described what these open positions involve in terms of the required qualifications. They also provided insights into the community each department is building, how the department is situated within their universities, as well as a general description of the campus and surrounding area.   

3) Most Important However!  Each panelist spoke at length providing personal advice about so many things that anyone on the job market will definitely want to think about when it comes to the process of obtaining a position in academia.  Topics discussed included preparing yourself for the job market, searching for a position, how to get an interview, how to prepare for an onsite interview, how to prepare for the future, and how to find research collaborators. 

For this reason alone, if you are considering a position in academia – either next year or any future year - you will want to review this session!

Your job talk is very important.  So, often I hear people say “sell yourself”.  People are uncomfortable many times with “selling themselves”.  We're not salespeople, even though people like to say you need to “sell” what you do.  I prefer to say communicate very clearly.  If you communicate very clearly, that will accomplish the task.  Make sure people understand you well.
Murali Haran (Penn State University)

One thing that I invite my own students to think when they are thinking about academic job is to think as early as possible about what you need in order to succeed.  This is actually not an easy exercise.  First, everybody's definition of success is different and we all have different role models.  Second, what do you need? One can think about this in terms of environment, types of resources, such as, access to a world class science department?  Collaborators? What are those things that are important to you?
Tian Zheng (Columbia University)

When the Question and Answer section of the session began, session moderator Irina Gaynanova, Associate Professor of Statistics at Texas A&M University) was looking at a blank slate! However, as you will see in the recording below the questions came in quickly and included a number of very interesting questions!  The panelists relied on the wealth of their collective experience to provide substantial answers to questions from attendees which included: “I would like to hear more about the speakers’ take on whether to go the post-doc route or apply to an academic position.”, “What suggestions do you have for who to seek for letters of recommendation?”, and “I am wondering how we can show our teaching ability if we have not had a real chance to teach?”  

One of the best surrogates to measure potential for teaching is your job talk.  All eyes are on you for that 50 minutes.  The entire department stops to listen to what you have to say.
Joshua M. Tebbs (University of South Carolina)

Wow – good questions!  And, even better answers!  The discussion around these topics is definitely worth reviewing!

Below you can find a recording of this session along with copies of the slides that the speakers used. The slides provide you with the key points that were offered!

Recoding of the Session

Slides used by the Speakers

Murali Haran (Penn State University)

Virtual Job Fair 2021

Tian Zheng (Columbia University)

National Institute of Statistical Sciences Fall 2021 Academic Career Fair

Joshua M. Tebbs (University of South Carolina)

Fall 2021 NISS Career Fair

NISS Affiliates, if you would like to be featured in upcoming career fairs, please do not hesitate to contact NISS!  
NISS is always looking for ways to support missions of each affiliate.


Friday, September 10, 2021 by Glenn Johnson