What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
As an assistant professor at a research-based institution, my primary responsibilities include research, teaching courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and supervising the teaching and research of graduate students. However, I was also hired as part of a "cluster" of junior faculty organized around the social aspects of sustainability. We call it the Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) cluster, and it includes new faculty hires in philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political science, forestry and resource management, and civil engineering. So in addition to my other research projects, my research responsibilities involve seeking out ways of collaborating with other members of the BSC cluster.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
I see my current work as simply a continuation of the research program I began developing as a graduate student at UBC. I continue to write articles and books on moral psychology, cultural evolution, and the theoretical foundations of social science.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I LOVE writing and doing research. I also enjoy teaching more and more as I gain more experience with it, but I consider it a true gift to have a job pursuing my theoretical interests. The most challenging thing about my job is time management. Because teaching and supervision are quite time consuming, it isn't easy to find enough time to write.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
My current job and career path are exactly what I originally intended. I feel very lucky to be doing what I love.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
The philosophy department at UBC has excellent faculty focusing on both the philosophy of cognitive science and the philosophy of biology, and the psychology department has a number of excellent faculty members focusing on evolutionary psychology and cultural evolution. These were (and still are) my primary research interests, and throughout my graduate career I was fully encouraged to work with faculty members from any department, without regard for disciplinary boundaries. UBC proved to be an ideal research environment for me.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
I love writing, so doing the work for my graduate degree was itself one of the things I most enjoyed. But aside from the work, Vancouver is a fantastic place to live – incredibly walkable, with good cafes to study in, and great restaurants and bars to go to after work. Amazing hikes are close by if you have a car, but Pacific Spirit Park – right on campus – is a great place to go for short daily hikes with the dog. We also spent a lot of time at the beach, and I got into snowboarding and yoga because both are so easy to do there.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
I treated graduate school like a full-time, 9–5 job, and I never took extended deadlines. Late papers add up quickly and create big problems with staying on schedule.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
If you want a job in academia, make sure you understand how competitive the job market is in your field. Also make sure you have a good plan for funding for your ENTIRE time in grad school. And stay on track with timing as you progress through your program. If you get behind schedule, you may lose funding in the later years of your program.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I learned about this position through Philjobs.org, a website on which virtually all jobs for philosophers are posted.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Almost all jobs in philosophy (in the English-speaking world) are posted on Philjobs.org.