Going to California

By Sean Carroll | April 6, 2006 6:08 pm

Some of you may know that I’ve been on the job market. The good news is that I’ve officially accepted a position at Caltech, starting in September. It’s a fantastic research environment, and they are building up in cosmology at the moment. Also I understand the weather is pretty nice, so I’m excited about the move.

The job itself requires a little explication: I’ll be a Senior Research Associate in Physics. According to Caltech’s classification system, this is a faculty job (“Caltech’s equivalent of a research full professor,” as they put it to me) but not actually a “professor” job. Basically I get to concentrate on doing research — no teaching required, although I’m allowed to volunteer — and can apply for grants and hire postdocs (and even serve on committees!) just like any other faculty member. The downside is that there is no tenure, although it’s not a term-limited job; I can in principle stay forever if the money holds out and they don’t want to fire me. In the meantime, I’ll have the freedom to work on some of the more ambitious cosmology ideas that have been percolating in the back of my mind for a while.

I have to express my gratitude to everyone who has been incredibly supportive during the entire process, from my close friends to strangers on the internet to famous scientists around the world to Marc Kamionkowski and the others who did such a good job recruiting me to Caltech. I’m sure I will miss Chicago at times, but the future looks really bright, and I can’t wait to get it started.

  • http://www.pieterkok.com/index.html PK

    Congratulations! I have had the pleasure of working at JPL in Pasadena for two years, and I’m sure you’ll like it there. (I certainly did; I met my wife there…)

  • Moshe

    Congratulation Sean, and welcome to the better coast.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Excellent! So now you’ve signed on the dotted line I can drop the fascade I’ve been maintaining about life in LA as a means of attracting you here, and go back to blogging about folding bikes, burritos, and misunderstandings of electricity in Australian newspapers.

    It’ll be such a relief.


  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Oh, and congratulations on making the right choice!


  • http://biocurious.com Andre

    Congratulations! That’s great to hear, although I was hoping things would work out at Penn since my plan was to finally learn GR. :)

  • Scott H.

    Hey Sean — glad to hear that you wound up somewhere you’re excited about! My years at Caltech were great ones, both in terms of science and lifestyle. I’ll envy you when I’m clearing snow out of my driveway here near Boston ….

  • Dumb Biologist

    Congrats! Sounds like a fantastic sort of position.

  • Jennifer Ouellette

    Almost no need for me to chime in here with congratulations, so instead I will simply say that I am seething with jealousy. :) Soon you’ll be awash in sunshine and fabulousness, at least when not unlocking the secrets of the universe…

  • http://scipp.ucsc.edu/~aguirre Anthony A.

    Congratulations, Sean — I wondered which institution would be lucky enough to snag you!

    Sounds like a great opportunity and I look forward to having you closer by, and to seeing some of the percolating ideas come to life.


  • http://iso42.blogspot.com Wolfgang


    I read that Caltech just lost a cannon to MIT, but I guess this should not affect you.

  • Eugene

    Congratulations Sean! Go get em! In better weather to boot.

  • http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer


    Though SoCal is not maybe as nice as NorCal, but it’s fun down there too. :-)

  • Samantha

    FANTASTIC! It will be just great to have you in LA!

  • http://brunsli.blogspot.com Brunsli


    Excellent choice!

  • Cynthia

    As long as you are simply exiting Chicago, all is fine in the Universe. I wish you all the California happiness in the world.

  • http://3quarksdaily.com Abbas Raza

    Warmest, heartiest congratulations, Sean!!! What wonderful news! As a young man it was my dream to attend Caltech, now shall I take vicarious pride in your teaching there. Best wishes from all of us at 3QD…

  • hack

    You will be about as far geographically from Lubos as you can be within the continental US. What could be better?

    And the fact that you won’t have tenure means your brain will not rot away for a while.

  • A.J.

    Congratulations Sean!

    I hope you won’t give up on teaching. Your lectures were always quite interesting!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/joanne/ JoAnne

    Ah – it’s a Cosmic (Variance) alignment in California!

    Congratulations Sean and welcome to California! I’m glad it’s all settled and you can move on. Now you can shine even brighter and show Chicago what they are missing.

  • jay

    Now, it’s time for Risa and Mark to look for some places in California, making Cosmic Variance a lot less than the current value. Or, Clifford (or JoAnne) may move to the east coast to retain what we have for now. ;-)Congratulations, Sean!!! Hope you flourish there!

  • http://arunsmusings.blogspot.com Arun

    Good for Caltech! Congratulations! The best, which was yet to come, is now a little closer!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/mark/ Mark

    Congratulations Sean. Yes, you may miss Chicago at times, but it will miss you far more frequently.

  • Athena

    Congratulations! I’m very happy to hear the news. Mark is right, Chicago will be missing you.

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2006/04/quantum-mechanics-determinism-at.html Plato

    I wonder if you will be working with Kip Thorne? If he was borne 1940 that makes him 66. Do people of science actually retire?

    Getting paid to do something you love doing, is this not a reward for the culmination of the time and energy spent? :) Well done Sean.

  • http://goatsreadingbooks.blogspot.com Tim D

    Congrats, Sean! Lucky for Caltech!

    I hope for the sake of the Caltech student-body that you don’t leave teaching behind for good. I guess they can always read the blog…

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    Congratulations! I spent two years at Caltech as an undergraduate (having transferred as a junior after two years at a community college) and it was an amazing place to be. You should be very happy there (and I’m glad they were smart enough to snatch you up).

  • twaters

    This is the shiznick, as I didn’t want to apply to Chicago! I have time to take one course at Caltech next semester through Oxy’s exchange program…please consider teaching GR at the level of your book. At the least, I’ll be looking for you so I can have a signed copy. You’re the man!

  • Nicholas


    I cannot wait to see what is waiting to percolate up…


  • Spatulated

    KICK @SS! i dont know if this is considerd a family blog, and i usualy dont swear, but somethings are just to exciting to use words any less powerful.

  • Hiranya

    Congratulations Sean! Chicago will certainly miss you…

  • Elliot


    Let me add my best wishes to you. You will now be that much closer to the movie capitol of the world 😉 as well as some major league poker rooms.

    Sorry to see you leave Chicago however. Are you hanging here for the summer or headed out there soon?



  • Matt B.

    How exciting… this means more time for blogging… right?


  • graviton383

    That’s great news! Welcome to California where it’s always sunny and…let me stop right there. Chicago really seems to be screwed up.

  • Dragan

    Congratulations Sean, that’s a big catch for Caltech and a loss
    for us in Chicago. We will miss you.

  • http://www.esztersblog.com eszter

    Congrats, this is wonderful news! A close friend from grad school is also just moving there, I’ll put you two in touch.

  • Sam Gralla

    Congratulations, Sean. Caltech is a wonderful environment and you will love it. I also can’t wait for your new cosmological ideas.

    You will be dearly missed in Chicago!


  • http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/ Robin

    My most sincere congratulations, Sean. Caltech is lucky.

  • as

    Congrats and goodluck.

  • http://nanopolitan.wordpress.com/ Abi

    Congratulations, Sean! Thanks for sharing this (long-awaited) news with your readers. I wish you all the best.

  • http://deferentialgeometry.org/ Garrett

    Right on!

    Consider joining Hike the Geek — a Sunday morning hiking group chock full of atheists from the LA area. Good people. Good food after the hikes too.

  • Chaz

    Nice! Sorry to see you go.

  • Nick Halmagyi

    right on dude! you’ll be totally needing this




    and this


    No seriously, congratulations, glad things worked out


  • http://ofteninerror.blogspot.com Urbano

    Congratulations for your new position :-)!

  • Aaron Bergman


  • Belizean

    Congratulations! Best of luck at my alma mater. Now CV will have the right balance — 60% California bloggers.

  • weichi

    I’d like to rest my heavy head tonight
    on a bed of california stars

  • Asher

    Congratulations and good luck!

    I hope you do continue to teach, at least sometimes, as your class was one of the best-taught of my undergraduate career.

  • citrine

    Sean, sounds like you have the best of many worlds.

    Congratulations and keep us informed of your change of State!!

  • Maire

    Congrats, Sean! You’ll love Pasadena; they’re lucky to have you!

  • http://catdynamics.blogspot.com Steinn Sigurdsson

    You are mistaken, the weather sucks.
    Hot and sunny all the time, except when it is warm and sunny.
    It Never Snows!

    Otherwise, not a bad place scientifically…

  • Jeff

    Congratulations Sean. I’m a JPLer (and hence, associated with Caltech), and really love it out here. I recently met Clifford and it’s good to add more CVers out here!

  • Aaron

    Congrats!!! :)

    here we cooooooooooooooooome!


  • wamba

    Also I understand the weather is pretty nice, so I’m excited about the move.

    Weather? What weather? As an added bonus, you can see the air you’re breathing.

  • ed hessler

    What great news.

    Congratulations and may the wind be at your back.


  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Thanks, everybody! I am looking forward to sunshine and fabulousness while unlocking the secrets of the universe.

  • spyder

    Congrats and wow. Both you and Caltech are blessed by this.

  • http://capitalistimperialistpig.blogspot.com/ CapitalistImperialistPig

    Fired by hell and sent to heaven as punishment. No doubt due to your strong religious beliefs.


    And do teach – they could use some teachers!

  • CanuckRob

    Congratualtions, the new position sounds wonderful and I amsure you will find the weather more to your (or any humans)liking.

  • http://www.centeredwork.com AndyS

    Apparently they don’t mind your blogging!

  • http://gordonwatts.wordpress.com Gordon Watts

    Sean! That is fantastic! Congrats! And good luck. It may be diffrent out there, but I definately missed Chicago when I left (but I get to go back every few weeks, so that has helped!).

  • Armi

    Welcome to Caltech. We’ll be glad to have you here.

  • Caolionn

    Congrats and welcome to the party!

  • http://bitchphd.blogspot.com bitchphd


    We will have to meet up for lunch sometimes. It’s nice to know there’ll be someone I know around.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/risa/ Risa

    Many congrats, Sean. Caltech will never be the same… and Chicago (the city, the institution, the department) will be much the worse without you. So glad I won’t be sticking around to see the decline! (to those few fans I have left after months of not blogging who are waiting to hear where I’m going… just a bit longer, and all will be revealed)

  • Cheryl

    Congrats, Sean! As others have said, what is Chicago’s loss is CalTech’s gain (and yours). Jeff & I will have to catch up with you before you leave Chicago.

    Watch out, SoCal, Sean’s back!

  • http://www.jumplive.com chimpanzee

    “May your travels be prosperous”

  • Pingback: The Westward Shift of Cosmic Variance | Cosmic Variance()

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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