Department Head, Biomedical Engineering

  • Please describe your current job in one or two sentences

I am the head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. It is a very small department with highly selective graduate and undergraduate programs. As Department Head, I am expected to continue with active research and a 3/4 teaching load, so I keep quite busy.

  • What academic and / or professional training do you have?

I did a PhD in computational neuroscience at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a postdoc in the Biomedial Engineering Department of Johns Hopkins University.

  • How and at what professional stage did you get your current position?

After my postdoc, I was hired as a Senior Lecturer (the equivalent of an Assistant Professor) at Ben-Gurion University. I was elected head of the department pretty much be default three years ago.

  • What were the most important career activities / steps that led you to this position?

This is a standard academic path, and it requires standard academic success: a good PhD program with a successful advisor and good publications, similarly for the postdoc, and then managing a lab with reasonable success once you’ve gotten a faculty position.

  • What does your typical work day look like?

My day is almost completely filled with meetings from morning until early afternoon. The meetings are a mixture of beauracracy, science, and human resources. If you like variety, it can be very interesting.

  • What do you like most about your job?

I still love most doing research. I love talking to my students and colleagues about science. I also really like the opportunities to make the university administration more human and accessible to students and faculty alike. The day is full of opportunities to be human, compassionate, and focused on the values that matter.

  • Is there anything that you like less about your job?

Being department head in a small department is a big job. For many things, no one is keeping their eye on the ball except me. I’m not good at being organized and keeping track of all the things that need to be moved forward, and this often gets me in trouble.

  • What skills are most needed for your kind of position?

Being organized, being focused on specific goals, managing to balance science and department duties, inspiring and motivating staff and students, understanding how to market and sell the department.

  • What will be the most important future challenges for people in positions like yours?

It is essentially a temporary position. After 3 or 6 years, it is necessary to either move up in the university beauracracy or go back to being a regular researcher. Thus, keeping aware of your career goals and developing yourself is a key challenge while I try to develop the department.

  • Which capacity that you acquired during your academic training is most helpful in your job?

The ability to work very hard and a high tolerance for failure and dissappointment.

  • Is there anything you whished you had studied / done more before you took on this job?

Certainly, it would have been nice to have training as an adminstrator. That is something I’m seriously lacking. Time management, personnel management, project management. These are all missing in my toolkit.