in the wake of election results

[letter to Carnegie Mellon ECE community, November 9, 2016]

Last night, Americans have spoken and have chosen the new president. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I know that many of you are feeling sad, anxious, angry, disappointed, or all of the above; I feel the same. In the words of our president, “We try very hard to persuade people that we are right; and then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. … We try even harder the next time.”  Continue reading “in the wake of election results”

preparing for the academic job search: interview

Once you receive an invitation to the interview, send a polite email thanking the department head/search committee chair (whichever invited you for the interview) and ask for any pertinent details about your job presentation, chalk talk details if there is one, or any other details you feel are necessary to prepare for the interview.  Continue reading “preparing for the academic job search: interview”

preparing for the academic job search: developing a diversity statement

An increasing number of institutions are asking for a diversity statement (either separate or within the teaching/research statements) as part of the package. If they do (as Carnegie Mellon does), assume they are doing it for the right reasons and write as such. Stay away from clichés and generalizations; write instead about your personal commitment to an inclusive environment where every student can achieve his or her full potential. See an excellent article in Inside Higher Ed for more tips and pointers.  Continue reading “preparing for the academic job search: developing a diversity statement”

preparing for the academic job search: developing a teaching statement

While in writing a teaching statement, there is more freedom in how to present and organize the material, it is still crucial to present your vision and teaching philosophy. A great teaching statement will set you apart from the rest of the applicants. A great teaching statement might not lend you the job on its merits alone; a poor teaching statement can certainly disqualify you. Continue reading “preparing for the academic job search: developing a teaching statement”

preparing for the academic job search: developing a research statement

At a major research institution, this will probably be one of the most scrutinized documents you send. The search committee will be evaluating your potential to develop an independent and successful research program, and in long term, become a tenured member at their institution. The stakes are high: search committees hire for the next 40 years, it is up to you to convince them you are worthy. The worst mistake you can make is to write your research statement as a laundry list of small accomplishments without vision and plan for future research. Continue reading “preparing for the academic job search: developing a research statement”

preparing for the academic job search: candidate package

A candidate package is fairly standard; most schools will ask for an up-to-date CV, followed by research and teaching statements, often a diversity statement, list of three to five reference letter writers and some number (typically three to five) representative papers. To this, you should add a cover letter. What is written below is biased towards research institutions; adapting it to teaching institutions moves stress from research portion to the teaching and diversity portions of your package.  Continue reading “preparing for the academic job search: candidate package”

let’s talk about tough issues

[letter to Carnegie Mellon ECE community, September 22, 2016]

Dear all,

the shootings in Charlotte, the latest in the string of terrible and disheartening events across the country seem to be pushing our country backwards. The intensely divisive US presidential election, full of demagoguery, contempt for minorities and disdain for science and facts, puts even more stress on all of us to do something. This is not about my personal political beliefs but about basic human decency; everyone deserves respect and, more importantly, a chance to be heard and understood.  Continue reading “let’s talk about tough issues”

how to raise a scientist daughter?

I’ve loved math since I was a little girl; I loved puzzles, riddles, and number games of any sort. My dad used to play with me palačinke (Serbian for crêpe) games: “Your mom made ten palačinke, your brother ate three; how many are left?” Math was sweet.

I’ve loved music for almost as long; I was fascinated by the patterns notes would dance in front of me. I could quickly recognize themes and transitions just by looking.  Continue reading “how to raise a scientist daughter?”

what do electrical and computer engineers do?

Despite the number of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) departments around the country (also EE, EECS), very few prospective students know what electrical and computer engineers do; even on our own campuses, we are typically a mystery. While in high school many students get exposed to various areas of computer science, they rarely do so for areas of ECE. Moreover, the lack of understanding of how we impact the society and people’s lives influences the enrollment of underrepresented students and creates a general misconception of electrical and computer engineers walking around with soldering irons.  Continue reading “what do electrical and computer engineers do?”

how to start writing a paper

Often, we encounter papers we cannot read nor understand; such papers are useless. While they appear on the author’s CV, they do not add to the knowledge base of the community. Even the most important and interesting results are of no use if they are not disseminated. You do not want all your hard work to go unnoticed due to poor content organization, inability to express yourself well in English, or sloppy preparation and writing.  Continue reading “how to start writing a paper”