Skip to main content

We're moving East: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about my move to the East Coast:

Q: When are you moving?

A: July 3

Q: So soon!

A: That's not a question :) But yeah, we want to get settled in in Cambridge before the school year.

Q: Have you found a place to live?

A: Yup, we very quickly found an ideal house in Cambridgeport, near Central Square and about 2 miles from the CfA.

Q: Whoa, that was fast!

A: Yeah, we got extremely lucky. There's very little inventory in Cambridge, especially in our price range. Erin and I laid out the characteristics that we needed, and a separate list of wants in a Google Doc, so we knew what we were looking for. On our second day of searching during our visit to the Boston area this Spring, Erin found a place that met all but 1-2 of our needs/wants. She called me with the news, I rushed over to take a look, and we decided to make an offer. It was accepted and we closed last week.

Q: Where will the boys go to school?

A: Cambridge does not have neighborhood schools. Kinda like Berkeley, you list where you'd like your kids to go, and it's up to a lottery thereafter. This ensures a good mix of socio-economic backgrounds at each location and prevents the affluent from separating out good schools for their kids, leaving the rest for the less advantaged. This fits well with our sensibilities. The downside is that we're not guaranteed to have the boys attend the dual-language immersion school that is a block away from our new house. Such is life...

Q: What do the boys think about the move?

A: They're mostly excited, and they really enjoyed their visit to Cambridge last Spring. But you have to keep in mind that they've never done something this momentous and life-changing in their memory-recording lives. Owen moved from Hawaii when he was 4, but doesn't really remember much about it. It'll be interesting to see how they react when the reality starts setting in. For example, we sold the fish tank and fish, and saying goodbye to the fish was really emotional for them.

Q: Are you flying, driving?

A: We're going to drive along I-80. Our road trip is all planned out with many stops, and only one stretch of driving longer than 8 hours. We'll be staying with friends and family along the way. The road trip will last about a month. We're looking forward to seeing the country.

Q: A month-long road trip with two young kids? Are you crazy?

A: We've done it before when the kids were even younger. The boys travel like champs and we'll spend more time off of the road than on it.

Q: Are you teaching in the Fall?

A: Nope. My first teaching assignment at Harvard will be the Ay16, Intro to Astro course for prospective astro and physics majors. It's very similar to the Ay20 course I've taught at Caltech, but it has the distinct advantage of being a 16-week semester course, rather than a 10-week quarter. I'll get to cover much more material and do more involved labs. I also hope to teach AstroStats sometime down the line.

Q: Will your group go with you?

A: Actually, only a few people in the current ExoLab will be joining me. One student will come to Harvard with me in the Fall of 2014, and one postdoc will join me. I'll also remotely advise one other student. So I'll need to rebuild the ExoLab. Fortunately, recruitment won't be difficult.

Q: What about Project Minerva?

A: The test facility will remain at Caltech for a year while my team "teaches" the telescopes to operate robotically. After that, we will move the telescopes to a permanent site, TBD. We're looking at Mt. Hopkins in AZ (our default since it's owned by SAO), Mt. Wilson, McDonald Observatory in TX, and San Pedro Martir in Baja Mexico. We'll make our final site decision this Fall.

Q: What will Erin do in Cambridge?

A: Live the good life! But seriously, with both of the boys in school, she has many options available to her including the ability to go back to school, work part time, or both. While the details are TBD, what is certain is that she'll do extraordinarily well at whatever se takes on. That's how she rolls.

Q: Are you available to give a talk at my institution?

A: Sorry, but no. I have placed a one-year moratorium on extended travel in order to get my family and group settled in. A year from now I plan to hit the talk circuit again with a brand new set of presentations. Until then, please invite Phil Muirhead, Justin Crepp, Leslie Rogers, Tim Morton and Jon Swift to give talks. They are all outstanding speakers and they're doing all of the great work that makes me look good these days!


Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …