Is it just me or did January 2012 just sneak up on you? Resolutions abound for every New Year. Whether you plan to run a marathon, lose some weight, or write a book, LIFE in 2012 ought to be exciting. Do not settle for the mundane, and look for ways to excel. So, here are some 2012 LIFE (Learn, Involve, Focus, Expect) lessons for the student and the professor alike!

Learn from 2011 An important step on your journey towards completing a degree—graduate or undergraduate—is to assess the past year. Learn how to scrutinize yourself in a constructive manner. Hopefully, you were taking some notes on your personal journey during 2011! Do not just stop at your thoughts but ask your advisor or mentor to evaluate your performance in 2011.

Evaluate your Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) that will enable you to reach your goals.  Maximize your strengths and identify and mitigate weakness in your portfolio. Seek out opportunities that may be available for 2012 for career development. Be careful with threats and distractions that may be present and make sure that they do not derail you. Take responsibility for the things that did not go well and purpose to convert your weaknesses into strengths. Set concrete goals (example: finishing a research paper or presenting your work in a conference). Remember that you need to be proactive in your academic and work life.

Involve yourself now It is a great time to involve yourself in conferences and student activities. There are plenty of opportunities available for students to excel in courses and in research. There are numerous travel scholarship opportunities to begin networking.  If you are part of a team, either involve yourself in ongoing activities or start something new for the common good. This will flex your leadership skills. If communication is a weakness, then take courses in public speaking or take classes that require you to get up in front of a class and speak. Remember that your future employer is looking for a team player who can play well across sand boxes!

Focus on the future The sowing and reaping paradigm from my book works well in all situations. Have a vision of what it is that you plan to do after you graduate and then diligently work towards the goal. If you are having difficulty focusing, have a peer, or better yet a mentor, help you through this process.  Do not let yourself to be shaped by past failures or successes of 2011. Remember that in academia failures are often stepping stones to great success stories.

Expect great things I believe that you the student have an excellent seed within you called potential. You need to have a positive mind set and expect great things. Otherwise, why bother going through four plus years of higher education? Do not surround yourself with negative people—those fondly called the “glass is half empty” folks! Guard your vision.

Press on towards the goal in front of you!

Sundar A. Christopher

(*Inspired by Rusty Nelson)


About Sundar Christopher

Dr. Christopher received his PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from Colorado State University in 1995. He also holds a Master's degree in Meteorology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) and a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. After completing his PhD, Dr. Christopher joined the faculty at SDSMT in the Department of Meteorology. In 1997, he joined the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UAH as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001 and was awarded tenure in 2002. He became a Full Professor in 2007. From August 2007-May 2014, he served as Associate Director of the Earth System Science Center. He served as Chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Science from 2010-2014. He successfully designed a Master's level graduate program in Earth System Science that educates and trains graduate students in new paradigms involving research to decision making. In 2014 he was appointed as Dean of the College of Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Dr. Christopher's research interests include satellite remote sensing of clouds and aerosols and their impact on air quality, environment, health, and global and regional climate. He works with numerous satellite data sets from polar orbiting and geostationary satellites, ground-based instruments, and aircraft data to study the earth-atmosphere system. He has published more than 100 peer reviewed papers in national and international journals including several review papers related to aerosols, air quality and the climate impacts of aerosols. He has served on numerous national and international committees including the Climate Change Science Panel and the GEWEX. Dr. Christopher enjoys teaching and has designed and developed undergraduate and graduate level courses with special emphasis on hands-on training using satellite data. He also designed a professional development course for graduate students and maintains a blog to help students navigate graduate school. In 2011 AGU published his book titled Navigating Graduate School and Beyond : A Career Guide for Graduate Students and a Must Read for every Advisor. Dr. Christopher has published extensively in national and international peer-reviewed journals and has also presented his work at major scientific conferences. He has been invited to speak at major venues including the World Federation of Scientists (Erice, Sicily), the United Nations Symposium in 2007 (Graz, Austria), the American Association for Aerosol Research, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS), the United Nations Symposium on Space Applications, 2008 (Graz, Austria), the Osher Institute of Higher Learning, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, and various national and international universities (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Purdue University, Texas A&M, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin, Goddard Space Flight Center, Colorado State University, and others). He has won several million dollars in numerous grants and contracts from NASA, NOAA, and other federal agencies for studying earth-atmosphere processes. He has won several awards including the University Award for Research and Creative Achievement in 2006 and NASA New Investigator Award. He has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has served as an expert reviewer for the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). He is a citizen of the United States of America.
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3 Responses to Welcome…

  1. Sam says:

    Wow this looks like a really good book cant wait till it comes out

  2. Gracel says:

    Dr. Christopher is such an inspiration. The book is amazing! I encourage anyone who is in graduate school to read this! Hope there is a next book coming!

  3. Sam, This book is now available through Wiley Press. Check out the home page for this blog

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