Monday, May 07, 2012

Atlanta, Northward

When you accept a postdoctoral position, you know you probably can't stay indefinitely.  Psychologically, it means you have to prepare yourself for having to switch jobs, coworkers, offices, etc., and I, as a postdoc, have been ready for this foreseeable consequence with Georgia Tech, where I've enjoyed being part of a strong and lively department the last two years.

Unfortunately, when you take a postdoc in a city like Atlanta, where there isn't as high a concentration of universities and research labs as some other places, you not only have to leave your job, but likely also the city.  And even though it was in the back of my mind that I'd probably have to move, I didn't expect to love Atlanta as much as I have come to.
Atlanta's botanical garden

Atlanta has sunny, warm weather, really friendly people, lots of trees, amazing restaurants, nice parks, museums, a symphony, theaters, and everything you could want in a city (except, perhaps, a waterfront).  It's also very livable -- the population density is fairly low, so you're not elbow-to-elbow every time you leave your house, and you can live in really nice suburbs right in the middle of the city.  Because of the large influx of new residents, it's mostly new and clean, yet the cost of living is quite low.  And you can reach great hiking with a 20 minute drive and reach a beautiful national park in 3 hours.  It's certainly a place I wouldn't mind living in again at some point in my life.
Smoky Mountains National Park

But while I'm sad to have to leave Atlanta, but I am also excited to begin a new phase in my career.  In a couple months, I'll be joining the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as an Assistant Professor in the Math department, actually called "Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science."  The department is quite strong, but unlike most math departments, UIC's is expressly concerned with Computer Science (so, yes, I'm remaining a computer scientist). Additionally, UIC has another entire standard Computer Science department, where I'll also have a courtesy appointment.  Between the two departments, there are quite a few great faculty members working on various aspects of machine learning -- I'm looking forward to joining them. And with Northwestern, UChicago, and TTI-C nearby, Chicago should be quite an exciting place to work.
Chicago, reflected in "the bean"

But because this post started with Atlanta, I should say something about the city of Chicago.  While I don't yet know Chicago well, it also looks like a beautiful, livable place, on the shores of a (literally) great lake.  The people seem friendly, and there is a lot to do.  I just hope that, after being spoiled by Atlanta, I can get used to Chicago's cold winters.