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Made to measure: how to ‘tailor’ your job applications

Customizing your job application documents for academic and industry roles will help you stand out as a candidate.

When an employer is searching for an ideal candidate, in addition to someone qualified they are also looking for someone who will excel in the role and thrive in their organization and team. As an applicant, you want to ensure the role reflects your interests and skills and aligns with your career goals. You also want to be sure that the organization’s core values resonate with you and your potential new manager and team’s dynamic are compatible with how you operate. While it is important to create readable, well-written job application documents, it is also imperative to tailor said documents to the potential employer. Let us tackle some ways of uncovering information and using it to personalize your job application. Please note that for North American job applications, resumes refer to a focused one to two-page document highlighting relevant qualifications and a curriculum vitae (CV) which is more typically used for faculty and research-oriented positions, is more comprehensive and is an exhaustive list of everything the jobseeker has achieved.

Applying for a faculty role in North America includes providing a CV that documents your overall experience, a cover letter demonstrating your fit and interest, a research statement outlining your current and future research program vision, a teaching statement and dossier, and a document outlining how you incorporate equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility (EDIA) principles in your research and teaching. A postdoctoral position requires sending a cover letter/email and CV.

Zachariah Heiden.

You should also highlight key aspects from your information search in your cover letter, strategically weaving in those details. For example, in a faculty position, one may choose to highlight their lived experience teaching international students when applying for a position where this is a key requirement. Zachariah Heiden, a scholarly associate professor of chemistry at Washington State University has written about some of these aspects using cover letters, teaching and research statements as examples. For humanities-related examples, the HR commons Academic Job Market Support Network group is a great resource.

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University Affairs/Affaires universitaires

DOE funds new cooling loop at Nuclear Science Center

Washington State University’s nuclear reactor pool will be able to keep its cool longer, thanks to a $740,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The funds will pay for an upgraded, secondary cooling loop at the university’s Nuclear Science Center that will allow the 1 megawatt Triga Reactor to operate more often and longer in service of research projects.

The reactor rests about 25 feet deep at the bottom of a pool of 65,000 gallons of water, which helps dissipate the heat it generates when it is running. The current cooling system for the water is more than two decades old, and the new cooling loop will mean less thermal cycling in the reactor pool water. In other words, it will stay at a more consistent, cool temperature as opposed to going through cycles of heating up and cooling off.

“The goal is that when we get the system installed, we’ll be able to start up the reactor to a megawatt and the reactor pool water will hit an equilibrium temperature relatively quickly, and it will be stable for as long as we need to operate the reactor in support of all of our fantastic projects,” said Corey Hines, the Center’s director.

Planning and installation of the cooling loop will take place over the next two years.

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Mirage News
WSU Insider

Cowlitz Indian Tribe invests in STEM education and research at WSU Vancouver

Washington State University announced a $1 million philanthropic investment by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe to advance life sciences and STEM education at WSU Vancouver, benefitting students, research and outreach in southwest Washington. The commitment made by the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation will be used in the construction of a $5.4 million state-of-the-art greenhouse as part of the campus’ Life Sciences Building project, now under construction.

“The WSU Vancouver community is grateful for the generous investment and partnership from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and looks forward to the completion of our campus’ new Life Sciences Building in 2024,” said Mel Netzhammer, chancellor of WSU Vancouver. “This commitment will open doors for our talented faculty and students to make discoveries and share valuable knowledge of the world around us, thereby improving the quality of life across the region and beyond.”

“The Cowlitz Indian Tribe invests in education because we understand the value that it brings to individuals and the community,” said Timi Marie Russin, Cowlitz Tribal Foundation manager. “We are honored to be a part of the mission and grateful for the partnership with WSU Vancouver.”

The 3,300-square-foot greenhouse will be home for lab-based experiments, lectures, and independent research projects that will benefit biology and environmental science education and research programs at WSU Vancouver. The greenhouse is part of the new and innovative 60,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building, which broke ground in November 2021. Slated to open in 2024, the Life Sciences Building will house laboratory space for programming in biology and chemistry, serving general educational needs for all students and foundational courses for an array of STEM degrees. Largely funded by $52.6 million from the state of Washington’s 2021–23 capital budget, the Life Sciences Building will also house basic, translational, applied, and clinical health programs — including nursing, neuroscience, psychology, molecular biology, and medicine.

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WSU Insider

WSU Graduate School fills two vacant associate vice provost positions

Greg Crouch.

The Washington State University Graduate School has appointed Chemistry Professor Gregory J. Crouch as associate vice provost for graduate academic programs. Management and Entrepreneurship Professor Arvin Sahaym has been named associate vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives with the Graduate School.

Both appointments began with the start of the Spring 2023 semester.

In his new role as associate vice provost for graduate academic programs, Crouch will serve as liaison between the Graduate School and Faculty Senate Graduate Studies Committee and support assessment and data review processes. He will also oversee the transformation of the Graduate Mentor Academy.

Crouch holds a doctorate in organic chemistry from WSU and has been a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry since 1996. He currently serves as interim director of graduate studies and associate chair in the Department of Chemistry.

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WSU Insider

Federal funding will help WSU professor develop technology to recover rare earth elements

Xiaofeng Guo.

Xiaofeng Guo, an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington State University, is part of a national team of scientists that recently received $39 million in funding to develop market-ready technologies to increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition.

The Department of Energy-funding will support 16 projects across 12 states to develop commercially scalable technologies that will enable greater domestic supplies of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, rare earth, and other critical elements.

The objective of Guo’s project, “Mining Red Mud Waste for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage and Critical Element Recovery,” is to use supercritical carbon dioxide to recover critical elements, especially rare earth elements, from aluminum production wastes (red mud).

The project is led by Xin Zhang, chemical engineer of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, joined by Arizona State University Professor Alexandra Navrotsky, who was Guo’s PhD advisor and donor for the Alexandra Navrotsky Institute for Experimental Thermodynamics at WSU.

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WSU Insider