I recently needed to convert my academic curriculum vitae1 into a resume (no, I haven’t been fired). While you can find lots of examples of how to do this online, they are mostly aimed at students as opposed to people later in their careers, and I didn’t happen across one from an astronomer. So here is my worked example; you can find my traditional CV at the link above for comparison.

The requirements for this particular resume were a bit unusual:

  • it had to be copied and posted into a web form: maximum length 32000 characters of plain text
  • the details of publications were specifically requested as were sports and hobbies
  • identifying individuals other than the resume owner was forbidden

I started out like this:

Pauline Barmby, PhD
Scientist, communicator, technical leader

There are cases where someone with a PhD wants to downplay it but this wasn’t one of them. I replaced the “goal” sentence with a summary of what I wanted the recipient to remember about me.

one line address
one line phone number and email
one line webpage

Since I had already filled out another web form with contact info, no need for overkill here.


2015-present Associate Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, Faculty of Science, Western University

Oversee academic and professional development for 700+ students across 12 graduate programs
Contribute to personnel  and budget planning as part of Faculty leadership team
Manage $12M graduate student support budget 

2013-present Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Western University
                      core faculty member, Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration, Western University
2007-2013 Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Western University

Perform research in observational extragalactic astrophysics, specializing in star formation in nearby galaxies, star clusters, astroinformatics
Taught 1800+ university students over 10 different courses (astronomy, physics, calculus, computing)  
Obtained $693k in research funding as principal investigator of 9 research grants
Directly supervise research by 2 postdoctoral fellows, 3 PhD students, 8 MSc students, 11 BSc students; mentored, advised, and examined 20+ additional students
Organize international scientific conferences: Python in Astronomy, Gemini Science Conference, Canadian Astronomical Society AGM
Advise international telescope management: Gemini Observatory, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope
Peer-review research grant and telescope time proposals: NASA, Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation, CEA Eurotalents Program, NSERC, NRC, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes

2001-2007 Astrophysicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Tested and characterized IRAC instrument on Spitzer Space Telescope, pre- and post-launch
Planned, executed, and analyzed mid-infrared observations of nearby and distant galaxies using Spitzer and other telescopes
Performed astronomical research on galaxies using Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes
Mentored undergraduate summer researchers

(The line wrapping worked better on the web form). This section is longer than the corresponding CV one, because I attempted to describe, , with action verbs where possible, what I do and/or have done in my faculty and staff scientist positions. (An academic CV generally assumes that the reader knows what an academic in that field does.) I didn’t list every committee I’d ever been on, but tried to capture some of the more recent ones in the lists.

1995-2001 Teaching and Research Assistant, Harvard University Department of Astronomy

Performed observational astrophysics research on the globular clusters of the Andromeda galaxy using optical and infrared imaging and spectroscopy
Taught undergraduate tutorials in science-for-non-specialists courses

1991-1994 Co-Operative Education student

Charles Howard & Associates Engineering: modelled river/dam systems to optimize water flow and power generation
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory: analyzed radio telescope observations of distant galaxies
Canadian Space Agency: developed microgravity fluid-mixing experiment under direction of B. Tryggvason
Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics: modelled gravitational interactions between planets

The grad-school-and-before positions are not in my academic CV; I was trying to emphasize the breadth of experience here.


Scientific computation and data analysis: C, Python, R, git, specialized astrophysics software 
Professional scientific communication: 109 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 120 conference presentations, 35 professional seminars 
Astronomical observations: 30+ nights at ground-based research telescopes, 100+ hours with space-based telescopes
Technical project management: leadership in international research collaborations, peer-review panels, and professional societies
Working knowledge of French; beginner Spanish

The usual scientist stuff, written for someone who might not be familiar with what academics do.


Increased public understanding of science: public outreach talks and classroom visits (30+); media interviews (30+); professional blog posts (60+, see pbarmby.github.io)
Improved computational skills of researchers:  Software Carpentry volunteer instructor and lesson contributor 
Community involvement: Beaver Scout leader, Scouts Canada

Sports & Hobbies

Recreational running (20-30 km/week), swimming, curling
Knitting, weaving

Again trying to emphasize breadth of experience; a sports & hobbies section wouldn’t be in a standard resume. I decided that my standard running pace and curling team position were too much information. One difference between resume and CV is that the CV actually lists all of the various talks and interviews separately, rather than just counting them.


Awards & Scholarships

These sections are similar to the corresponding CV section but placed further down.

Refereed Research Publications (linked online at http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2767-0090)

1. Vulic, N., Gallagher, S. C., & Barmby, P. "X-rays Beware: The Deepest Chandra Catalogue of Point Sources in M31,” 2016, MNRAS, in press
2. Lianou, S., Xilouris, E., Madden, S., & Barmby, P. “The dustier early-type galaxies deviate from late-type galaxies’ scaling relations," 2016, MNRAS, in press

This list goes on and on and is fairly similar to the CV list except for removal of the formatting used to mark students and postdocs and the various LaTeX special characters. I also cut some of the longer author lists down to “First Author et al.” to save characters. I think it was a safe assumption that the recipient here was not going to care about the name of the 3rd author on paper 57.

So there you have it: a 22-page CV turned into a 23488-character plain text resume. Most of the space saving comes from removing lists (students, courses, committees, talks, etc) and summarizing those with counts of activities. It is doubtful this document served its intended purpose, and I won’t know for a while. But trying to identify the key skills from my experience in academia was certainly interesting. If you are trying to do the same, I hope you find this useful as well.

1: I understand that what North Americans call a “resume” – a one-to-two-page summary of employment and skills – is called a CV in the UK.