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Ask an Acoustician
their own families as well), these gatherings have become less frequent and less organized. I find that nowadays I internalize rejection more. But after I recover from that punch-in-the- gut disappointment, I remind myself that this is work and that paper/grant rejection is not a rejection of me as a person. I then go and hang out with my friends and family and remind myself what makes me happy. Finally, I turn back to the rejected work and determine how to learn professionally and make improvements on it. But I do sometimes miss those cathartic rye gatherings.
What are you proudest of in your career?
I aspire to be an effective administrator who can help move our collective higher education and research agenda forward, so I am proud whenever I manage to implement positive changes on spotting how a process can be improved. For example, when I was a graduate student and postdoctoral trainee, I was very involved in the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO). Noticing that there was no student chapter for trainees, I helped initiate the student/postdoc chapter of ARO (spARO), emulating the well-run ASA student chapter. Some of my proudest moments nowadays are when I talk to trainees and realize that they wouldn’t even think of a time when spARO was not part of ARO because they now take it for granted that spARO is the place for networking and obtaining career devel- opment information.
A more recent example would be my involvement in starting the CE program for JASA. A couple of years ago, like many authors, I started complaining about how long it would take for a manuscript to go through the JASA review process. Jim Lynch, editor in chief of JASA, noticed my complaints (through a Facebook post) and invited me to become an associate editor (AE) for the journal and join the ASA publication task force. I then discussed different potential solutions with many people. Ben Munson made a brilliant suggestion, and after pitching it to the task force, we decided to create the CE role, with me being the first guinea pig. This meant that I would be reading all the manuscripts submitted to the technical area of physio- logical and psychological (PP) acoustics and coordinate among the AEs to decide who would be the best choice to handle each manuscript (instead of relying on the rather archaic the Phys- ics and Astronomy Classification Scheme [PACS] code). The addition of the CE role proved to be surprisingly effective, and with other changes implemented by the JASA editorial team, we managed to cut the review time by a whopping 40 days (see Lynch and Lee, 2017, in Acoustics Today). It was quickly adopted by other JASA technical areas beyond the PP area. I
am proud that the CE role will now become a permanent fix- ture in the JASA editorial process.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
I only consider things mistakes if you don’t learn from them, although I wish I knew more about graph theory and tensors.
What advice do you have for budding acousticians?
Always be passionate about what you do. Then infect others with the same passion you have about acoustics.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome? How did
you deal with that if so?
Oh boy! If you asked me two years ago, I would say no. Then during my sabbatical year, imposter syndrome hit me like a train. Now it has come full circle. On reflection, I think I never experienced imposter syndrome before because I was just too busy working toward my next goal without taking time to really think. Then during my sabbatical, I had a lot of time and freedom to reflect. It turns out that when I have time to ponder questions such as “What do I really want to do now that I have tenure?” and “Who am I to think I can accomplish those lofty goals I have set for myself?” I started to spot symptoms of imposter syndrome. As I mentioned above, I do think a series of lucky coincidences got me to where I am career-wise, and that fed into the imposter syn- drome. After my sabbatical year, this feeling of being a fraud has mostly subsided. Sure, I have less free time to listen to my self-doubting inner voice, being busy with my day-to-day research/teaching/administrative duties. But more impor- tantly, I think I have become at peace with myself, realizing the following: (1) luck often plays a role in career develop- ment, but one can only take advantage of opportunities if you are prepared, so don’t be too hard on yourself for feel- ing lucky; (2) on the flip side, sometimes when things don’t work out, you’re just unlucky, so don’t be too hard on yourself about things that you do not have control of; (3) there’s a fine line between self-doubt and levelheadness; it’s good to ques- tion yourself from time to time and employ sanity checks but not to a point that self-checking mechanisms become unnecessary mental roadblocks; and, most importantly, (4) only do things that make you happy in the long term; life is too short to do otherwise. It turns out that how in tune you are with what makes yourself happy is highly dependent on your cultural upbringing. Unfortunately, in many societies, happiness is often erroneously assumed to be equivalent by other indicators (e.g., good grades, high salary, awards, grant money). If you’re free from the societal view of success but
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