A blast from the past and a personal update

I was digging through some of my old blog posts and had almost totally forgot about this artwork I commissioned for the blog when I first started back on blogger. Check it out and then I'll fill you in on what I've been up to and why I've been so sparse over the last many months.

I stopped blogging consistently a while back, and it was for a great reason, I promise!

About a year ago, after I passed my prelims, I went on the job market. I interviewed for a couple academic positions (mainly liberal arts) and a number of industry/government jobs. I finally decided to 'sell out' and take the applied psychology route. This decision deserves a blog post of its own and over the next couple days I hope to post something about the whole process and why I decided to leave academia.

I ended up taking a job with a very large government organization that employs a number of Human Factors Engineers / Engineering Research Psychologists (there are so many jobs titles for what I do - but these seem to cover a majority of work places). Besides the first couple of months, during which I was honestly pretty bored, I've come to really enjoy my job.

My job is to basically use what we know (or more often discover something new) to assist in the design of a large complex system that millions of people interact with and whose lives depend on daily. I realize I said that I'm not the type of psychologist that helps people but I guess that joke came back to bite me in the ass. I guess It could be worse - like me becoming a self-help author. More specifically though, after doing basic vision research for the last 5 or so years, I've gotten back to my neuroscience roots. I've been establishing a neuroergonomics 'lab' to explore a number of physiological measures of performance. I use techniques like, fNIRS and EEG to explore psychological constructs like workload, fatigue, and confusion. I also use sEMG to measure muscle activity in some more classic ergonomics. While this is only marginally psychology - when you go into industry you have to be wiling to be flexible with what you use your scientific skills with.

During the first six months of my job I was also working nights to finish up my Ph.D. I finally headed back to my department a few weeks ago to defend. While I'm happy to announce that I successfully defended, and I can now say "That's *DR* Asshole to you!", It was a little bit of a let down - I think they should have abused me more during the defense. This I have to say is my own fault - I picked the greatest group of people anyone could ever have for a committee. My advisor is a super laid-back, supportive, brilliant, and conscientious person. I have worked with some of my committee outside of my dissertation and have nothing but wonderful things to say about them - I've learned a lot from them. My committee is also made up of great people and I'm happy that I can call all of them friends. I've read (blogs, chronicle, etc.) and heard so many horror stories personally about graduate school that I started to wonder what was wrong with me - grad school was a generally positive experience for me. I guess I could complain about the crappy salary (it wasn't that bad since my now-wife and I were both able to buy property), and the temporary nature of the job (although some people don't treat it that way). Anyway, back to the story.

I always had a rule, "No marriage before Ph.D."

I cut it close. I got my Ph.D. only a few weeks before I got married to a wonderful woman just a few days ago. The planning was stressful and long, but the wedding was perfect.

Now I have a normal job and no crazy after-work requirements like dissertating or wedding planning.... maybe more time for blogging?!

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