Friday, January 30, 2009

Road Scholar

Here is what I learned from my Travel Poll earlier this week:

1. Many more early career faculty voted in the poll than did more senior faculty. Only 16 so-called full Professors voted, and I know who some of them are. Might one conclude from these data that more early faculty read this blog (or blogs in general) than do more senior faculty? I find that kind of interesting; perhaps not surprising, but interesting nevertheless.

2. In every professorial rank polled, most faculty travel <> 75k/year is very very low.

4. There is no significant difference between Assistant and Associate Professors in terms of miles traveled. There is no particular trend of travel increasing or decreasing with career stage, although not enough Professors voted to make a conclusion about them. Variation in travel likely relates more to research field, institution type, funding opportunities, the number and location of essential conferences etc. than it does to career stage.

5. When making decisions about travel, most readers do not and would not take into account the amount of CO2 emissions for which they would be personally responsible, but a significant number would consider doing this, even though they have not yet done so.

I consider the opportunities for interesting travel to be one of the excellent aspects of my professor job, but faculty positions are so varied in so many ways that it seems that one can probably arrange one's professional life to include more or less travel depending on personal circumstances and preferences.

A few years ago, a frequent flyer businessman, upon learning that I had the same frequent flyer status that he had, asked me "Are you really a Road Warrior too?"

No, I am not a Road Warrior. I do not spend my life shuttling around in airplanes. I make a few international trips each year, and a fair number of domestic trips, and the miles add up. Road scholar, perhaps.. warrior, no thanks.


Anonymous said...

I didn't vote in the poll because I have no clue how many miles I travel each year for work. I don't think of my trips in terms of miles but in terms of locations. And because of how my university funds travel for conferences, I do not get credit for the miles, so I do not see a report of the mileage ever.

I wonder if any others had this issue?

Anonymous said...

Some non-Assistant Profs may have voted in the Assistant Prof poll without reading the headers, just because it was first. I did that in fact (luckily I really am an Assistant Prof). It's the presentation order bias---similarly, it's been shown that people will click on the first Google result far more often than any of the others even when the first one isn't as good.

Anonymous said...

I didn't vote... because I still don't know who won the 'statement of purpose essay' contest! Who's the winner, what are the exact prizes? The anticipation is killing me!

Tha BossMack TopSoil said...

I'm a Road Warrior also.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand point number 2 with the "greater than" AND "less than" symbols, and there is no point number 3.

Pagan Topologist said...

I am a (full) professor who voted. I travel to two conferences a year, typically, generally as an invited speaker. One is within the US; the other elsewhere, most often somewhere Mexico. So, I fall into the under 25K miles category.

But I quibble with the 'professional carbon footprint' concept. It is the airlines that have a large carbon footprint. The planes would fly with or without me, so my net footprint is not terribly great. It amounts to the extra fuel burned because of my weight on the plane, so far as the flight is concerned.

My larger part is getting to and from the airport, for example, and travelling around town while I am at a conference.

John Vidale said...

Three counterpoints to arguments presented in comments on carbon footprints:

1. While the airlines rarely schedule an extra plane for a single person's single trip, statistically and in the long run, every flight we take results in that fraction more plane flights.

2. Dealing with climate change is not solved by individuals each volunteering to do their part. Without strong central regulation, probably internationally organized, we will not change our behavior enough.

3. Solutions do not require reverting to eating mushrooms in caves.

The arguments advanced here reinforce my opinion regulation is the only mechanism to ratchet back our wasteful habits - the majority of posters, including me, argue changes are needed, but our own meetings and collaborations are too important to curtail just for a vague and long-term problem.

EliRabett said...

When Eli worries about his carbon footprint it is the lab not the personal jet. The damn thing sucks amps like a leech sucks blood, let alone thinking about the cooling costs (the ohmic heating in the winter keeps us warm).

In part this is why he never much complained bout F&A costs