Vis Panel: Building a Research Group in Visualization (2)

This is part 2 with the questions.

HC: Is a mental model useful (an explicit plan for group-building)? SC: No – do it first. CJ: No, make a plan only after you have a largish group. HH: It’s more about the path than the destination, so no. SN: It’s important to have a plan when hiring, so yes, at least in part.

Claudio Silva: how important is luck, really?. HH: Luck is there for everyone. HC: but it favors the prepared. MC: Make sure you’re doing things while you wait for the opportunity.

HC: How important are allies? HH: What about friends? TE: Stay away from politics until you’re as big as Chris’s group. HC: Can you avoid politics until then, though? CJ: No. Avoid minefields, look for win-win. This is important for the long haul. Make sure no one loses. It’s not fun, and it doesn’t work. TE: I agree. MC: So do I.

Gerik Scheuermann: How do you fit people to particular places/roles? SC: Bring people out, have them work a little to see that they interact well with the rest of the group. CJ: When we look at faculty hiring, we first decide the area. Once we decided, then we look at the top 3 people in the field, and go after them. (He can get away with it because SCI is big). “Ask our faculty – they didn’t have a choice :)” SN: For us, it was self-selecting: they knew what we were about, and so they came to us. You can’t expect to change people – don’t try it.

Chris Collins (I think): What mistakes did you make? SN: That’s an easy question. We thought if we just built technology, they would come. The response was: “Wow, that’s useful for someone else, not me” and that someone else never appeared. Don’t spread yourself too thin. MC: Research group size is important. Watch out for the “two supervisors, one student” situation.

Chris Collins (I think): What about the gender imbalance in the field? SC: Small things help. For example, look out for people’s heights – make sure they’re comfortable. Structuring the physical situation might be as important as the interpersonal one. Watch out for terms in reference letters, it’s important – people tend to evaluate genders differently, so be aware of that.

(missed the name): What about the timescales? Grad student, tenure-track, tenured. There’s a fundamental tension between the three of them. What to do? CJ: It’s hard. Do not mistake the urgent for the important. Read David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” – the most useful time organization book I read. Use OmniFocus for the Mac, it’s great. SN: Keep talking about the long-term goals, keep them in the discourse. You don’t even know when it happens, but it does.

Terry Yoo: “Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity”. I’m talking to seven of the most prepared people in Vis. We are facing some of the most difficult times for funding we have ever seen in our lifetimes. How do you prepare for this? There’ll be good talent on the streets, but no money. How do you get through this? HC: The biggest long-term impact we can have with the economy going this way is to maybe shift back some to teaching. Make sure the next batch comes prepared. SC: Everyone is nervous, but in Vis we are in the cusp of widespread need. If people are more uncertain about making decisions, let’s capitalize on that – let’s give them tools to help. CJ: Diversify! SCI is funded from one third NIH, one third NSF, a tenth industry, a tenth DOE, a tenth DOD. Douglas Adams: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

Hamish Carr: Thanks everyone.

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3 responses to “Vis Panel: Building a Research Group in Visualization (2)

  1. Thanks for your comprehensive notes from the conference! This is a useful archive. And yes, it was me that asked the two questions you attributed to me.

  2. Pingback: IEEE VisWeek 2008 - Panels overview « Visualization Blog

  3. Pingback: Hi from AT&T Research « visualization, etc.

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