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Harry Blom

I did my masters thesis at Utrecht University and my PhD thesis at Leiden University, both in astrophysics. I had a postdoc position in Mexico for 1 year before taking on a job in publishing with Kluwer Academic Publishers.

I believe that the following features of my astrophysics education have been particularly useful for my current career in the publishing industry:

1) The intensive international collaborations in astronomy - Because of this, my network of experts living all over the world is substantial. My knowledge of other cultures (frequent travelling) and languages (many project and conference presentations, I learned Spanish in Mexico) grew rapidly.

2) A strong "learn and do it yourself" attitude and technical awareness - For doing research, people often have no other option than to develop their own (computer) tools (or at least within a small team). I learned to program in many software languages (just by trying it and reading manuals) and I am now within the publishing company considered a computer expert (in fact, I don't think I am, but to my surprise, many colleagues first expect a course before trying things themselves). Astronomers are trendsetters in adopting new technology and software (I advise my colleagues in other departments how to use Excel, Latex, file conversions, multimedia formats etc.).

3) A strong drive to be precise and accurate - Research results must be defendable, criticism is very normal in science. Therefore, I have learned to check and double check ideas, texts, financial calculations etc. and I know how easy it is to manipulate (financial) figures.

Well, I believe the three characteristics outlined above have been important for my current position. Of course, doing one thing intensively may lead to neglecting other important things (one can easily become a perfectionist, a solitary worker, or too much an idealist for the down-to-Earth goals of a commercial company).

Note that a publishing director at Elsevier (Michiel Kolman) also has a PhD in astrophysics, as well as my predecessor Eugene de Geus.


Quotes | by Dr. Radut