Went to Canada--got stuck

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Dear forum,

I came to Canada from the US 7 years ago because the offer was great, I loved the city, etc. But now, for personal and family reasons as well as others, I want to move on... and am finding it next to impossible to come back to the US.

I'm in STEM. My publication record is excellent (over 100 lab papers since I started as an assistant prof). Went up for tenure early, got it--went on the market that year, too, but NOTHING, not a peep from anyone. Met one SC chair at a conference, who said they had argued about my file on the SC, and they couldn't agree whether my funding was "competitive enough."

For those who know the Canadian system, an NSERC grant is roughly like an NSF grant, and CIHR is roughly like NIH. I have both. Both types are highly competitive. I can't apply for the types of US funding I am eligible for (NSF, NASA) because I'm in Canada. My funding history in Canada is very strong, but what I'm hearing from US schools is that this just doesn't count.

What can I do? I need to leave and don't want to starve. I didn't think about the family issues so much 7 years ago, but now they're becoming pretty desperate. I never imagined that taking a job in Canada would mean I was stuck between abandoning my career or staying here forever. I am considering just quitting, leaving for the city of my choice, and making the rounds of tech companies... but what if I starve? I admit I'm a bit isolated/coddled after so many years, and am afraid to just pick up and go.

Any solutions or advice from your cumulative wisdom? Thanks!

Are you limiting yourself to only the best research universities in the US?

Are you willing to consider non-top-tier R1 schools? I'm sure there are many decent schools that would drool over your publication record, so long as you've been publishing in decent journals.

My (American) impression is that NSERC didn't used to be as competitive as it is now. Maybe others have that same impression.

I always scratch my head when I hear people have to leave a job for "personal or family" reasons. I don't get it. I do get that at some point my mother may not be able to live independently--but that would mean--she would come to Connecticut--not that I would quit my job and go to Virginia.

It isn't you are stuck in Canada, per se, but rather anyone who gets a TT job may not find another one. You could just have easily been marooned in Arkansas, Kentucky, or Connecticut.

I will give you a piece of advice that my mother gave me that has always served me well: Don't quit your job until you have another one.

That takes the starvation piece out of play.

Thanks, all, for quick replies. I am willing to consider just about anything--industrial jobs, non-R1s, etc. I've sent out over 100 applications and heard nothing. That's what's such a shock; I was expecting this from R1s, but not from many of these other places.

Re. the family reasons, at some risk of outing myself, here's what they are--my aging parents have to live with me now. My dad just had a stroke and it's a choice between living with me and going to a nursing home. He can't come to Canada, nor can my mother, because Canada won't take them, and Canada is right. They'd be coming to be a burden. This is not something I thought I'd have to deal with for many, many years. I'm still in my 30s and my parents are young. This was a bolt from the blue, but I love them, and I'm not going to see them sent away because I decided to work in Canada. It's not like changing states as the example above mentioned. If it were, of course they could join me, but this is a question of citizenship, immigration, and health care.


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