Day in the Life, a Year in the Life:
What Faculty Do
In preparation for the Board of Trustees retreat this fall, we asked
several faculty members to describe how they spend their time. The trustees
found these descriptions very informative, and I thought you would also.
are two samples.
by Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History; Chair,
Council of the Humanities; Director, Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical
Wednesday, October 9, 2002. Note: This is an autobiographical account
of one, more or less, normal day in
a senior professors week.
5:30 a.m. Up (normal time) to think about the days teaching. My
seminar, History 448, deals with the art
and craft of history in the 20th century. It is aimed at seniorsmost,
though not all, of them in the history departmentand is meant to
help them think about their own theses, as well as the larger field it
This week were looking at one of the big innovations of 20th-century
history writing, the effort to ground human history in its natural environment.
I spend an hour planning seminar tactics: my introductory talk, questions
to pose, aspects of the book to concentrate on.
6:30 a.m. Make coffee, wake wife, skim newspaper.
8 a.m. Arrive at office, answer most pressing e-mails. Five of the least
pressing remain un-answered.
8:30 a.m. Two-and-a-half-hour space meeting with the provost and several
others. In my capacity as chair of the Council of the Humanities, I want
to make a pitch for turning a central space in the new humanities center
into a splendid, comfortable common room for students and faculty, where
we can have occasional scheduled talks and concerts, receptions and, a
of times a week, informal teas.
11 a.m. Back in the office, meet a senior who is working on her thesis
(on French intellectuals and the war in Algeriaas so often, I am
learning a great deal from my pupils). Answer most pressing e-mails (but
am now farther behind than this morning).
11:30 a.m. Call former student (now an associate professor at Stanford)
who has left message asking for career advice.
11:45 a.m. Answer most urgent e-mail messages. Am now behind by 10 or
Noon. Meet the students from my seminar in the library. Over lunch, four
times this term, a member of the history department gives them an informal
talk about his or her research methods. This adds an element that the
course previously lacked; the students not only read major historians,
but hear and question them. Robert Darnton, the first speaker, set a high
standard, but I have great confidence in this weeks speaker. Graham
Burnett, a Princeton alumnus , a Pyne Prize winner and now one
of our assistant professors, fascinates the students with a description
of his work on the development of cetology (the formal study of whales)
in 19th century America.
1:30 p.m. History 448: a wide-ranging discussion, and students show clear
evidence that they have read the text very closely and that they can judge
it in a critical, fair, and informed way. They have also done assigned
background reading from JSTOR (the Mellon Foundation-supported electronic
system for storing and accessing articles from scholarly journals), and
bring in much of that material as well. Web readings clearly work much
better, for this generation, than print readings in Firestone Reserve.
4:30 p.m. Latin reading groupthree graduate students work through
a hard piece of late 16th-century Latin with me. Good for me too, since
I dont teach elementary Latin, as my colleagues in classics do.
5:15 p.m. Join the departments picnic for new graduate students
in McCosh courtyard. Despite a bad market for historians, dull weather,
and burnt burgers, spirits seem high.
6 p.m. Dinner at nearby restaurant with a colleague from comparative literature,
Leonard Barkan, my wife and sonand an old friend and superb classicist
now teaching in Rome, Ingrid Rowland.
8 p.m. Public lecture on Machiavelli by Carlo Ginsburg, an Italian historian
who wrote his most famous book, The Cheese and the Worms, while in residence
at my departments Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies.
He has a new theory about Machiavelli (there have been thousands of others),
which provokes a lively discussion.
10 p.m. Home, writing more e-mailsI have to answer the most urgent
messages, but some take longer. Two graduates of the class of 02
need advice. One is now working in New York and applying to graduate schools
in history, the other now living in Athens and applying for a Fulbright
to stay on there. Also, I have to send comments to Megan Williams, a recent
Ph.D. from Princetons religion department, who worked with Peter
Brown and me on her thesis. This coming Sunday she and I will be making
a joint presentation on collaborative research to the Princeton Group
for the Study of Late Antiquity. I am now at least 10 e-mail messages
behind on the day.
11 p.m. Rereading notes on dossiers, in preparation for a meeting to award
fellowships. To prepare for this
I have read several books, dozens of articles, and heaps of letters of
recommendation; now Im trying to draw preliminary conclusions so
I can sleep on them.
professors year by Michael Celia *83, Professor of Civil and Environmental
Engineering; Director, Program in Environmental Engineering and Water
Resources; Director, Program in Environmental Studies
Like most faculty members, my activities in the academic year 2001-02
primarily involved teaching and student advising, research, and service
within and outside the University. I will describe major efforts in all
three of these categories, trying to give a sense of where I focused my
efforts and how they impacted the University and my overall field of research.
In fall 2001, I moved all my lectures onto PowerPoint, which took a large
amount of time. But the lectures were improved, and I now have a stable
set of lectures from which I can draw material. My major teaching effort
occurs in the fall semester, when I give ENV 201: Fundamentals of
Environmental Studies. When I began teaching this course four years
ago, the initial enrollment was 17 students; this fall the enrollment
was over 90. The increase is satisfying, both because I am the instructor
in the course and because
I serve as director of the Program in Environmental Studies, which offers
the course. We have seen a general improvement in the program, which now
teaches almost 180 students a year, and attracts a broad group of undergraduates
from all divisions of
the university. In the spring term, I taught a graduate course in my home
department, civil and environ-mental engineering, on numerical methods
for environmental transport problemsa fun course for me to teach.
I spent much of my research efforts over the past year continuing to
build a program to study geological storage of carbon dioxide as a possible
solution to the atmospheric carbon (global warming) problem. The idea
is to capture carbon dioxide and inject it into deep geological formation,
thereby keeping it out of the atmosphere for long time periods (hundreds
to thousands of years or more). My group is part of the large effort on
campus called the Carbon Mitigation Initiative, a 10-year program funded
by BP and Ford Motor Company to find meaningful solutions to the carbon
problem. The geological storage part of the project, which I coordinate,
involves six faculty members, three post-doctoral researchers, and three
graduate students. In addition to this project, I continue to work in
other areas of interest, including studies of the interactions between
soil, water, and plant systems with a focus on root extraction processes
and their dependence on soil moisture and a fairly detailed computational
and theoretical investigation of multi-phase fluid movement in porous
To date in calendar year 2002, I have published 14 papers, 7 in peer-reviewed
journals (6 different journals), and
7 conference proceedings. Almost all of my research is collaborative and
most of the papers are coauthored, with the list
of coauthors including 15 colleagues from 6 different countries. Service
activities include undergraduate and graduate student advising and service
on various University committees, including the Executive Committee of
the Princeton Environmental Institute. My most time-consuming external
activity is service on a review panel for the Hydrologic Sciences Program
of the National Science Foundation. This panel meets twice each year,
and for each meeting I am responsible for reviews of about 35 proposals.
I spend the better part of a month preparing for each meeting, then travel
to Washington for two days of meetings with little tangible reward, so
it really is Princeton in the service of the nation. Last
year I also co-organized a special session at the fall meeting of the
American Geophysical Union, served on a review committee for the Earth
Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, organized
two workshops associated with our carbon dioxide research activities,
gave a number of invited lectures, and attended a variety of international
conferences and events.
My hobby is ballroom dancing, and I did manage to continue to teach a
weekly class for the Princeton Ballroom Dance Club with my partner, Associate
Dean of the Faculty Lin Ferrand *88. But Lin and I gave up competing,
in part because our schedules have become too complicated. Overall, this
past academic year was rewarding, although a bit exhaustingI traveled
too much and danced too little.