This week I started my new position as a researcher at the Department of Chemistry-BMC at Uppsala University in Sweden. This is the same university where I got my MSc and PhD degrees. Coming back has been nice in a sense, but also somewhat confusing. Many things have changed in the past couple of years, although much is the same.
For me, coming back as faculty rather than as a student is also different and sometimes I manage to confuse myself too. This was most obvious on my first day of work when I was told that there was going to be a PI meeting. My first thought was ” so what? ” before I realized that I am now a PI, so I should probably attend the meeting!
Some people I have spoken with have asked me what it means to be a “researcher”. The answer is that it seems to be a generic term used for people who are doing their postdocs all the way to people who are just short of tenure. In my case, I don’t have a supervisor/PI and my immediate boss is the head of the department. Instead, I have my own group (although currently I’m the only person in the group), and I am my own PI, meaning that I am able to design and choose my own projects. When comparing with the US system I think that my position would be similar to an Assistant Professor, or in the UK perhaps a Senior Lecturer.
Besides doing my own research I will be teaching undergraduate courses while searching for and applying for more funding so I can hire PhD students and postdocs. Meanwhile, I will be open to accepting degree project students, exchange students, and visiting PhDs or postdocs who bring their own funding.
The world of faculty is indeed different from that of students, PhD students, and even postdocs. But I’m looking forward to explore and navigate through it. Who knows? I might actually thrive in my new role, and be able to push myself forward, just a little bit more!