View Dr. Ban-Weiss` presentation slides here.

George Ban-Weiss
Assistant Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering
[email protected]
My path
• PhD, UC Berkeley, 2003-2008
• Postdoc, Carnegie Institution, Dept of Global Ecology,
Stanford, 2008-2010
• Postdoc, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2010-2012
• Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2012-2013
• Assistant Professor, USC, 2013 - current
When did I decide to pursue an
academic career?
• Nearing the end of grad school
• My first postdoc position strongly reaffirmed my goal to
become a Professor
A day in the life at a government lab
A day in the life at a government lab
• Take home points:
• Spending a few (or more) years in a research position at a
government lab can provide excellent preparation for a
faculty job.
• Based on empirical evidence, spending an entire career at
a government lab seemed like a difficult existence to me
• Your results may vary depending on the particular lab and/or
research group
A day in the life at a government lab
• Heavy emphasis on research and proposal writing
• Can be an amazing scholarly environment for learning
• Often have many colleagues that do research that is closely
• Can be good or bad!
• Soft money
• Post-doc positions at government labs can turn into careerlevel jobs
• Might be less common these days
• Advice that I got was:
• Government labs are a great place to be while you wait
for the perfect faculty job to open up
• Need to keep publishing
• Your results may vary, widely depending on lab and group
• Both overall level of funding and group culture
Why I love my job
(a day in the life of a Professor)
Enjoyable mix of:
• Research
• Teaching
• Mentoring graduate students
• Interacting with undergrads
Compared to my experience at LBNL:
• I lead my own group at USC
• Graduate students in my group do a lot of the “heavy
lifting” in research
• More academic freedom
• Teaching and interaction with students
• Much lower overhead
How can you succeed?
Government lab:
• Innovative research ideas
• Team player
• High impact publications
• Talented fundraiser
• Innovative research ideas
• Good mentor to graduate students
• High impact publications
• Talented fundraiser
• Effective instructor
Which should you pick?
• Industry vs. Research Lab vs. Academia comparison varies by
• Tough to know which to pick without experiencing each
• Follow your passions and try not to make decisions based on
• If you love research and teaching, academia is a great choice