It's the start of a new school year here at the University of Texas. The building is full of freshmen wondering why the elevator doesn't stop at certain floors, our large number of weekly seminars are starting up again, and we've welcomed a dozen or so new graduate students into our program, and we're awaiting the arrival of a new faculty member and a few new postdocs.
Life in academia is centered on the school year, not on the calendar year. And, because of the incredibly slow bureaucracies common at universities, it's already time to start thinking about applying for money and jobs that would start next September.
For the past three years, my position here has been financed by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. That money enabled me to expand my research programs, explore new and exciting areas of astronomy, and spend a lot of time writing blog posts and surfing the astronomy internet. That changed at the stroke of midnight last night, as my research fellowship came to an end.
In reality, there's not much change for me in the short term. For the next several months, I'm getting paid out of a different research grant from the National Science Foundation. It means a slight pay cut and some new research responsibilities, but otherwise few changes. I'll still be blogging as I can, I'll still be studying white dwarfs, and I'll still be looking for that ever-elusive permanent, tenure-track position.
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. With the start of a new year, the possibilities seem endless.