by Professor Joseph Tanski, Class of 1995
I used to be a firm believer that it’s better to couple the moves between school, professional training, and career with moves to new and different places. I thought that it would be too easy to get comfortable in the same place, to get used to the routine, and lose that edge that drives productivity, success, and satisfaction in one’s career life. So when I was looking for my first position as a professor and there was an opening in my field of chemistry at my undergraduate alma mater, my first reaction was to not even consider it.
Having first discovered my love of science in junior high school, it was my high school chemistry teacher who first inspired me to study chemistry. When I was looking towards college, I had a pretty good idea that chemistry would be my major, but where? I chose a liberal arts college because I could experience other fields, such as philosophy and languages, while majoring in chemistry. But more than that, I chose Vassar because of the strong undergraduate research focus. I would be able to work in a research lab and use the modern research instrumentation that chemists use.
After graduate school at Cornell and a postdoctoral fellowship in New York City, I’m glad I thought twice about the opportunity to return to Vassar as a faculty member. Vassar was exactly the type of academic career I wanted. A good mix of teaching and research, the right blend of size and scope, the opportunity to add a bit of service to the community and my professional field… all in all the perfect recipe for a gratifying career as a teacher for me. I’m very happy to have returned to be part of the Vassar community as a faculty member.