Newsletter No. 98, June 2011

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2. View from the Chair - Chryssa Kouveliotou, HEAD Chair

Cassandra or Pollyanna?

So, what do you tell the young postdoc or graduate student working on his/her High Energy Astrophysics project with you? Hang on; this is a great investment in your future and make sure to build up your resume for your next job? Or Maybe you should branch out into different astronomy areas, just to be covered? Or we've been through rough times before, and we survived...

At our last meeting on the Big Island of Hawaii, I was thrilled to see so many young faces among the ~450 participants. Granted, it was Hawaii, but the attendance was high until the end of the meeting, despite the call of the Pacific sirens. Side room discussions were hot and productive - recruiting was evident, and optimism was restrained but present. In the coming HEAD meeting in Newport this fall, I expect that one of the most attended sessions will be the one on the Future of High Energy Astrophysics. We will have both US and European presentations, and we will hear what the future holds for HEA on both sides of the Atlantic. My Pollyanna side urges me to tell you that we can make a difference being part of the discussion, being active and constructive. We are all in the same boat, and we cannot survive alone, despite the statements you may hear otherwise. But I do have a strong line of Cassandras in my heritage and these voices tell me that the US HEA community will have to wait until at least the end of the next decade for a major mission.

So here is what I would like to tell my young colleagues. Take control of your own destiny. Be decisive. Plan for the lean years and think long term--plan ahead. Your advisers will/may take you to the crossroads--you will have to choose when to cross and in which direction to proceed. Network with your peers; put yourselves out there for your future employers to notice. Take your knowledge, exuberance and optimism and share it--promote HEA to your stakeholders: the public. Love your job. Enthusiasm, depth of knowledge, solid foundations, outspokenness, critical minds, outgoing presence, and constructive independence will move you ahead.

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