Hello and welcome from the other half of this new phase of PhD + Epsilon. I’m Sara Malec, beginning my first semester as an assistant professor at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.
Like Beth, I would first like to thank Adriana for sharing her wisdom with the community and building this column that we’re both so excited to inherit. As she enters the next stage of her career, I look forward to following her new posts and seeing what’s in store for me (fingers crossed) on the other side of tenure.
My path to academia was somewhat indirect. I started life as a physicist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, but gradually shifted to mathematics. After graduation, I joined Teach for America and taught 8th grade math in Atlanta Public Schools. I learned a lot over those next two years, but the most important lessons were 1) I enjoyed teaching, but K-12 education in at-risk schools was not a sustainable career for me, and 2) I desperately missed learning new mathematics.
So I enrolled in a couple of post-baccalaureate classes at Georgia State University to try grad school on for size. It turned out to be a great fit, and I continued at GSU, studying commutative algebra under the direction of Florian Enescu. Following graduation, I was accepted as the teaching postdoc at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I had a wonderful two years there learning the nuts and bolts of life at a teaching-focused liberal arts college, and now I’m excited to build on that at experience here at Hood.
This column will certainly evolve over the years, but I plan to write a lot about the many juggling acts inherent in the job: dividing energy amongst teaching, research, and service, and this “work-life balance” thing I’ve heard so much about. Other topics of interest to me are: inquiry-, project-, and group-based learning, guiding undergraduate research, cultivating mathematical interest and success in students from underprivileged groups, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and using technology for teaching and organization.
I invite you to help shape this column too, since I hope this will grow to be much more than simply my online diary. Please comment with a hello, a suggestion for a topic of interest to you, or a few words about what you wish you’d known when you first got started. You can also find me on Twitter at @saramalec.