Join the discussion
your opinion of post-tenure review at Emory? Should internal
resources such as University Research Committee grants be closed
to senior faculty? Can Emory support its faculty without reducing
the motivation to push the envelope?
Risk & Reward
what you need as a faculty member
Money and Biomedicine
academic physician's ambivalence
Samuel C. Dudley, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine
Charles Darwin had wanted to be comfortable, he never would have
taken the voyage on the HMS Beagle.
Wallen, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and Behavioral
the Passion and Keeping a Job
post-tenure review a faculty development tool or a lurking threat?
Academic Exchange September
1999 Contents Page
Exchange What persuaded you to leave
Harvard for Emory?
Professor Carol Worthman To take the leap, the advantage had to be that
I could do some things here that I couldn't do at other established
seats of power. There was no support for me to do international
comparative work at Harvard. The department here had an exciting
vision--to promote exploration of the interplay of biology and
culture. Rather than fight with each other, we would try to at
the very least tolerate one another and preferably have a dynamic
of interchange. And I'll be honest--it was the resources: two
years of technical support and very good start-up funds. They
built the lab for me. And I got URC [University Research Committee]
money to develop some novel assays and jump-start the risky work.
It was coming to an atmosphere where there was excitement about
ideas and where I could talk to administrators who actually had
some investment in the program doing well, because Emory was
trying to make a name for itself. You could say it's an arriviste
mentality, but hey, it has its advantages. Talent is something
to be fostered rather than exploited.
Can you give an example of against-the-grain research you're
doing that you couldn't have done elsewhere?
I've just started doing sleep research. No anthropologist, including
me, had ever thought about this until a pediatric endocrinologist
called me two years ago and asked, "What do anthropologists
know about sleep?" And I said, "Zero." I developed
an analytic framework and did a bunch of comparative ethnographies
with colleagues. To complete that I need to go to the field and
actually look at people sleeping, and then I'll do a book.
On one level, sleep researchers love this. On another level,
I don't have a track record in this, other than this one analytic
paper that I put together. So I'll go to the URC and ask for
money to go to Indonesia. A lot of people love this research
and think it'll be hot stuff. That's what I mean. I'm here because
I like to do risky research and push the frontiers of what we're
doing and not sit within a particular paradigm for very long.
And this is a good place to do that. By now, people know I regularly
come up with wacky ideas, but I get more and more credibility
because I deliver on them. But you can't get started without
Do you think Emory loses a competitive edge by providing all
It depends on with whom you're working. Frankly, I think any
good scientist is passionate. If you're not passionate, then
you're just doing a job. That's okay, but that's a different
order of person, as far as I'm concerned. Excellent scholars
aren't doing it for money or prestige. I mean, they hopefully
pay attention to those things because that's what the world pays
attention to; if you want credibility, it matters. But if you
give good people resources, they're going to use them for good
Have you found a culture of intellectual seriousness here?
think Emory has brought in a lot of horsepower, so the density
of interesting people has gone up over the years. It's a low-risk
strategy. You bring in these people and say, Do your thing, and
everybody just hunkers down and does it. Which is quite different
from hiring very junior people who are not yet as developed.
And frankly, I don't know what to think about that, because when
I look at places like Michigan and Harvard, of course, their
approach is Darwinian. That is, you bring in smart people, and
if you can survive, you're sort of like a road warrior by the
time you get there. That has its good and bad sides. There's
a lot of wasted talent, too. So that's what I see Emory struggling
with. How can you be competitive but remain attractive by providing
some opportunities that are going to nurture promising young
talent and lure it away from these magnets of academic prestige?
Can Emory support
its faculty without reducing the motivation to push the envelope?
If you would like to discuss this question over lunch with a
group of other faculty members, contact Allison Adams, 727-5269,