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Eminent domain

March 8, 2011

I brought up in the comments of a prior post the issue of being excluded. A relevant story from last semester:

A while back I recommended inviting Professor X to campus for one of the big colloquia. My motivation being that her research was interesting, and involved the method I am currently learning. It’d be a great opportunity to hear her talk and have some face-to-face time with an expert. The admin for the big colloquium made it clear, if the invitation were accepted I would be responsible for setting the visit schedule: meetings, meals and such. I’d hadn’t quite done all this before. It’d helped out with speakers previously in graduate school, but was never the point person.

Well, I still haven’t. Professor X accepted the invite. In the coming weeks I started making notes for things to discuss during our meeting, rereading her papers, etc. Then, I contacted the admin, still well ahead of the scheduled talk, to start getting things in order.  She informed me (very casually I might add) that local Prof BigWig had heard Professor X was coming, eminent domained me out and had begun setting the schedule himself.

Oh.

Not only was I not setting the schedule, I might not even be in it after Big Wig put himself in there, and whomever else he felt should get the opportunity. I doubt BigWig had any idea who I was, or was thinking about anything other that what he wanted out of the visit, and which other profs would look nice on the schedule. If I got bumped it was probably more due to a chain of communication error than anything intentional. I didn’t even have that much of a problem with him (re: his assistant) taking this on. It’s less work for me. Still, the entire point of this invite seemed to have suddenly slipped away as the schedule might have filled up while I wasn’t looking.

After some quick emails I did ended up getting a meeting slot (barely), and an invite to dinner, so in the end no complaints from me. I got what I wanted to get out of the visit. So, if I seem to err on the side of “tending to shout” it’s because of things like this.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2011 4:48 pm

    This is the reality of being a junior scientist. You have to get yourself into position…and defend that position. Sounds like you nailed it.

    • March 12, 2011 3:32 pm

      Everything ended up working pretty well. BigWig even turns out to be a nice guy who was apologetic, though it wasn’t actually his fault. I’m chalking it up to a learning experience. I seem to be having a lot of those.

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