The standard Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (APS) faculty appointment divides time between research (40%), teaching (40%), and service (20%). The standard teaching load is one course per semester (there are two semesters in the 9-month academic year). Up to three summer months are self-supported from research grants.
Faculty are initially hired for four years, and during the fourth year are evaluated for reappointment for an additional three years. The standard time to tenure is seven years; tenure review occurs during the seventh year and is based on the first six years’ performance. The tenure clock may be temporarily stopped, and tenure review may be requested prior to the seventh year. A sabbatical semester can be requested after six years of service to the University.
Standard research expectations for faculty include publishing research in peer-reviewed journals, acquiring research grants, and advising students and postdocs in research. Startup packages are provided to enable new faculty to jump-start their research group in advance of winning research grants.
In addition to being members of the APS department, faculty will have a research home in CASA, JILA, or LASP. Typically, CASA faculty engage in observational and theoretical astrophysics and instrumentation, JILA faculty are focused on astrophysical theory and simulation, and LASP faculty work in planetary science, heliophysics, and space physics. These divisions are not rigid. New faculty, in consultation with APS and the directors of the research organizations, will pick a research home that is the best fit to their interests and plans.
Faculty are expected to continuously improve their teaching, and CU Boulder offers ample teaching development resources (e.g. the FTEP and LEAP programs). APS also provides peer visits to classrooms to provide detailed teaching evaluations and suggestions for improvement. The CU Boulder Physics Department conducts STEM education research that is routinely incorporated into APS teaching practices.
Service duties include departmental committee work (such as organizing colloquia, graduate student admissions, or faculty hiring), service to the university, service to the community, and national service to research and education infrastructure. Faculty often serve on national review panels, referee journal articles, and engage in public education and outreach.
The above are general descriptions, and the details of any individual appointment may vary. For more details, please consult the official University of Colorado Faculty Handbook.
New Faculty Support
The APS department recognizes the crucial need for effective faculty mentorship in advising, counseling, and supporting junior professors. We plan to follow research-driven best practices for faculty mentoring, making use of mentoring resources available both through CU’s own Leadership Education for Advancement and Promotion (LEAP) program.
New faculty members will be assigned a senior faculty mentor, who will meet with them regularly for mentoring sessions to help them navigate becoming a new professor. Each spring, a committee of two senior APS faculty and the APS chair will meet with the new faculty members to review their progress towards tenure (if untenured). The APS department will work with LEAP to fund participation for interested new faculty in the Faculty Success Program through the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.
Beyond this formal mentoring, the department also provides a strong support network of peers. The new faculty member can join weekly junior faculty coffees, and other social events such as faculty barbeques and happy hours. The new faculty member can also join the other junior faculty outside APS who regularly attend the FTEP Natural Sciences Early Career Faculty breakfasts for complementary mentoring perspectives at CU Boulder.
The APS Department
APS Department includes 30 rostered faculty, 58 graduate students, and roughy 250 undergraduate majors. Research areas include heliophysics, space physics, planetary and exoplanetary science, Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, cosmology, and instrumentation. Teaching occurs at all levels, from introductory undergraduate non-major overview courses to specialized graduate level courses (see current undergraduate and graduate courses). Faculty are expected to rotate through a number of courses spanning the range of instruction. Education and public outreach opportunities and programs are supported by the Fiske Planetarium and the Sommers-Bausch Observatory.
The APS department and its affiliated research units (CASA, JILA, LASP) offer ample resources for teaching and research, including access to observational, instrumental, and theoretical facilities. The University of Colorado is a member of the ARC 3.5 meter and ARCSAT 0.5 meter telescopes, as well as two new 0.5 meter telescopes at the on-campus Sommers-Bausch Observatory. CU Boulder is an institutional member of the SDSS IV and V Surveys and has institutional access to the Las Cumbres Observatory. Members of APS also have access to the CU Boulder facility for high-performance computing and to facilities for the development of spaceborne and ground-based hardware. The headquarters of the National Solar Observatory, which expects to begin operations of the DKIST 4 meter solar telescope in 2019, is located on the Boulder campus.
Employee benefits, support, resources, perks, and programs are described here. The STAR program has information regarding a program for dual-career academic couples. Information about living in Boulder and surrounding communities, including housing and education, can be found here.