Professors A to Z Talk – How do people become professors?

Professors A to Z | Columnists

Professors A to Z | Columnists

Five different UNBC answers to that question, collected from the generous colleagues of Professors A to Z:

“I fell into academia somewhat by accident. After an undergrad in history I was at a loss as to what I wanted to do with my life, so I thought I should continue with my studies. The MA, however, almost destroyed my sense of curiosity and enjoyment in intellectual challenge. It wasn’t until after a prolonged absence from academia that the desire for interesting conversations and the allure of research dragged me back in. A PhD in the history of horsemanship complimented my background in horse riding, while also engaging with some of the ongoing debates surrounding animals in the past. This work continues to be fruitful here at UNBC, though the continuing casualization of the academic workforce has resulted in sessional and contract positions rather than a permanent post. Finger’s crossed this will eventually change.”

-Dr. Monica Mattfeld, Assistant Professor, Departments of English and History

“I started my career in chemistry after completing my Master’s program in applied chemistry. I provided services to a company, and was asked to study the vegetable oil production plant to find production related bottlenecks, and was lucky to find a major bottleneck in the first few months, and reported it to the senior manager in charge of the production. However, the process took a long time to win management over and make changes in the process. This led me to believe that if I would have been part of the management decision making process, then perhaps the decision to make changes would have been faster. So, I decided to go for a management position, and after completing a management program, provided management related services to another division. I was asked to work on projects that entailed collection of data and information from various departments to prepare reports and provide action oriented advice to management on various managerial issues. This action oriented research work experience got me interested in research, and I joined a Ph.D program, and was also invited to teach management courses to undergraduate and graduate students. I later got the assistant professor position after completion of my Ph.D program, and since then I have worked at various universities conducting action oriented research and teaching graduate and undergraduate students.”

-Dr. Balbinder Deo, Associate Professor, School of Business

“My path to UNBC was tortuous, serendipitous and exhilarating.

Tortuous because frankly, I could not have predicted nor anticipated that, after a Bachelor in Forestry (U. Laval) and a master’s and doctorate at the University of Guelph in botany and mycology, followed by 5 years of postdoctoral work (2 years in Corvallis, Oregon with Oregon State U., 1 year in Uppsala at the Swedish U. of Agricultural Sciences, and 2 years at UBC), I would be recruited just in time for the opening of a brand new University in Prince George in August 1994.

Serendipitous because my expertise in forestry and plant biology was indeed a scientific profile that UNBC was looking for in this northern setting for our sprouting Forestry Program! It was so gratifying to be wanted for the suite of experiences I had had over the years.

Exhilarating because at UNBC, you felt this immediate welcome from the city and the local University community. I was immediately surrounded by an outstanding group of scholars in many disciplines who, like me, had a full teaching and research agenda to initiate just after the monarch visit! Those were the days (as the song goes!) but the excitement is still very much alive 23 years later!”

-Dr. Hugues B. Massicotte, Professor, Forest Biology

“I became a professor as it was the inevitable thing to do. My father was a university professor, who began taking me to classes at the university when I was 10 years old. There was no question of not going to university. After I finished my Master’s and worked for the government for a bit, I finally decided the PhD and a professorship was what I wanted. At that point, my father told me not to get a PhD. Way to change your mind, Dad. To be fair, there were not that many jobs for graduating PhDs at that point. I went anyway, he got over it after I started, even came down and scared my PhD supervisor by making pointed comments (although not enough, I had to dump the guy for being a jerk). So, I guess it was the family business, to be a professor.”

-Dr. Annie Booth, Professor, Environmental Studies

“Since my undergraduate years, I aspired to become a professor for three main reasons. First, being the first in my family to attain a University education at the time, I wanted to reach this height so I become a source of inspiration to my younger siblings and cousins. Secondly, I had a desire to teach so I figured being a professor would be a great way of mentoring the next generation of higher learners. Thirdly, my passion for research comes from its potential to contribute to addressing real life issues. By being a professor, I gain the needed reputation for my knowledge and expertise to count towards social change.

-Dr. Nathan Andrews, Assistant Professor, Department of Global & International Studies