Professor Ready
    By Tommaso Dorigo | January 23rd 2014 12:52 PM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

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    I must say I feel proud of myself tonight.

    In Italy a unified procedure to rank candidates to the position of associate or full professor has been launched last year, and I of course participated to the qualification by sending a documentation of the work I performed and the articles I wrote in the course of my scientific career. With me, thousands of other candidates did the same.

    Note that as a researcher for the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) I am presently following a career parallel to the one existing in the University. Despite that, in Italy everybody knows that titles such as the one granted by the selection mentioned above are important for one's career.

    Tonight the results have come out, and I have been declared qualified for both the position of associate professor and the position of full professor. I was certain I would pass the qualification of associate professor, but much less so for the latter, which required the fulfilling of much tighter criteria.

    The results of the selection surprised me also for the fact that many colleagues allegedly more expert than me (older, with more experience, etcetera) failed to qualify as full professors. I wonder whether the ranking by objective parameters (number of publications, total number of citations, h-index, and demonstrated capabilities of research / research organization, etcetera) neglects some important aspects of one's career, such as those connected with teaching merits or other specializations.

    Anyway, who am I to blow against the wind ? Tonight I uncorked a very good bottle of red wine, and I feel slightly dizzy and quite happy. Note that this result does not have any practical implication - My position remains the same for now, my salary remains the ludicrous one I have earned in the last five years, and I have no real prospects of change in the near future. But at least this is some small token of recognition for my past career. It feels like I have not wasted my time in the past twenty years...


    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    Congratulations Tommaso!!!

    If not the salary, you may enjoy now a good wine every day.

    It's pity you do not want to be my friend.
    THanks - but what do you mean Vladimir ? I assume you mean "friendship" as in FaceBook meaning or similar. I see no reason why you should say I don't want to be "your friend".

    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    Yes, I meant "friendship' like in FaceBook, but here.
    I never used the friendship here as a tool to get in contact with people - never understood well how it works. Don't take it personally...
    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    Refusal works as a firewall. I know I am not welcome - that's how it works.
    It seems a little paranoid to infer you are 'not welcome' if he hasn't used the friend list in a long time.  The benefit to the friend list is it may introduce articles you wouldn't otherwise read - comments friends make on an article show up in your comment tracker - or you can chat with people.

    He has 10 people on his friend list, probably added 5 years ago, and 4 of them are blonde women. So if you want to increase your chances, you know what to do.  :-)
    Vladimir Kalitvianski
    I wanted to facilitate a professional exchange, but the professor is never ready.
    Hi Vladimir,

    really, it's exactly as Hank says. Get a dye :-)
    Jokes aside, I think you mistake me for a theorist, which I am not.
    I did try to answer some of your questions, and I continue to do this
    when you post here. However, don't expect too much attention from me
    to issues you raise which are not in my expertise.

    Congratulations, I'm sure you deserve it, although one would think that you ought to pay for the privilege of living in Italy, not get paid for it...

    CONGRATS TOMASO.  Recently, I too, was promoted from the rank of  Asst Prof 1 to Asst. Prof 2.  I was expecting Asso. Prof level, but  as you said " who am I to go against the wind."  This sounds like rationalizing discontent.   

    As you see, ranking has financial implications. It is justified for the schools to be tight on qualifications.  What is bad is when you become a victim of the politics in school where the possibility to influencing your promotion becomes quite discouraging. 
    Congratulations Tommaso!
    (I'm not working in the field of HEP but a fan of it to the extent of reading your blog posts often.)

    congrats T. You deserve it! I always look to your blog to get a good experimental physicists insight on current topics in particle physics.


    If I was to make my career choice today, I would want to study experimental physics wherever you teach it.
    So please keep blogging, Mr. Professor!

    Tanti Complimenti!

    Thanks for that Thinkeye!
    Congratulations Tommaso! For sure you are a full professor - and better than many!

    Michael Schmitt
    Richard King
    The requirements for the title of professor seem to vary somewhat from country to country. As I recall from a presentation by Professor Wolfgang Schad at the Mystics and Scientists Conference in 2004, “Time and the Timeless”, the requirements for a professorship in Germany, apart from being proposed, includes sitting a viva in front of other professors. I believe it to be somewhat easier in the U.S.A., as it is in the U.K., with, I was give in to understand, South Korea being particularly light on requirements for the title and a story, a while ago, that the University of Warwick considering following that approach with most lecturers being called professors, though I am not sure that it did. Your description of the process in Italy is different again and views of who is “expert” in their field, or suitably qualified, can vary markedly in most walks life.

    A few years ago I was on the brink of a professorship myself. Having obtained European funding to set up a Technology Diversification Centre in Hampshire, more backing led, almost, to the main part of the Centre being set up at a West London University, with Dr Joe Elliott, who had set up my MTech course at Brunel University, suggesting that I ask for a professorship, pointing that many people in a similar situation did just that and all it cost the university was a sheet of headed notepaper, the University providing the title, not the funding; admittedly it would not have been a full professorship, by which I understand to be head of department, at least in this country, though I would have been Head, Director, of the Centre. Professor Heinz Wolff at my own University, Brunel, was in a similar position in that he brought in funding for a centre. I took Joe’s advised, put the idea to the relevant Pro-Vice Chancellor and he was very receptive to the idea, particularly as it fitted with a proposed reorganisation he was already considering. I lost my chance of a professorship, along with the project and five years work as a result of a local Borough Council that was involved indulging in corruption and a cover-up. Co-incidentally, among other things, the local “dead tree press” was not interested and withdrew a reporter who was keen to investigate; “News Blackouts, Princes and Kings”. There is significant irony in that I live in Havant, Hampshire, U.K. meaning that my local Member of Parliament is David Willetts, Minister for Science and the Universities.

    The moral; developing, setting up, endeavouring to help business in Hampshire, especially Havant, can be far more costly than one might realise.I might even retrieve that level of university position as I would like to go back to university on a research basis, ideally applying the engineering and technology approach to matters with which mainstream science struggles and I just might get a professorship out of it; engineers do not have the hang-ups, or the often unrealistic, unnecessary, commitment to supposed “science purity” of those with a more simplistic, theoretical bent.

    My “passport” to that situation could well be an autiobiographical book I have written, though it stops short of the years of most of the aforementioned mentioned events, at least it might do once Arima Publishing who were suggested to me by Caroline Collings, a prominent business woman in Portsmouth, and once agreed to publish it, get back to me positively this time around, or I find an alternative.

    “It feels like I have not wasted my time in the past twenty years...”
    You should be so lucky, it is rather different in this part of the world, or seems so, though I guess that Italy has its own vagaries. Although there is a level on which I understand my situation as not waste it is not on the one on which this blog site resides.

    In any event, congratulations on your achievement.
    Thanks for sharing your story Richard, it is quite interesting. Yes, the requirements
    for professorship are quite varied around the globe. I think the abilitation I have
    received is not excessively hard to pass, but one thing is sure: one had to fill carefully the
    application. Many who should have deserved to also pass have, I suspect, neglected
    the importance of being analytical in their description of the work done.