Most of the stories in the research-life story project (including mine) are already processed and often told with some well-packaged perspective the teller wants to share. Today I am sharing a moment as it unfolds: Come next fall, I’ll be joining the Stanford CS Department. I’m very excited.
Since the closing of MSR-SV, I’ve been lending a hand in efforts to create a new distributed-system group at Samsung Research America. But in a few months I’ll be returning to academia. Returning may be too strong of a word. The place where I was “academically born” and where I served as a CS Professor was The Weizmann Institute of Science. Weizmann feels to me (and I hope it will always feel) like home. But Weizmann and Stanford are very different. So the question that burns in me towards next year (and towards the decades I hope to spend at Stanford) is what can I do at Stanford that I couldn’t at my past wonderful work places?
Of course, the main thing I plan to do is (hopefully good) research. With the excellent Stanford students and faculty (theory and otherwise), I am sure it will be a lot of fun. But my feeling is that this should not be it. Buzzing in my mind are many ideas (which I expect would require many years and some/most would never happen): New intro courses to CS (targeting different populations- Humanities, Math, Sciences, Information Science), new popular science books, new programs for K-12 education, a stronger connection with local theorists in industry, and perhaps most importantly to me is contributing to making academia a more humane place for students, junior faculty and in fact for all of us. The research-life story project was motivated by similar desires, and I hope to join efforts around the world that take this approach much further. I have the feeling that Stanford would be a particularly suitable place to promote these agendas (and others).
So what would you be passionate about in my shoes?