I am an associate professor of chemistry and all my education was in chemistry programs too. But my works were always in computational science. I developed various programs for analyzing chemical data. All I work with are programming language and algorithms.

I prefer to work in a computer department where I can use my skills for other applications (than chemistry) and work with colleagues who have knowledge about programming.

Can I apply for an assistant professorship in a department of computer science? How can I convince them that my experiences are comparable with computer education?

My worry is that because any academic position includes teaching at undergraduate level, department does not allow me to teach course as I have not studied that curriculum.

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    "Developed various programs for analyzing chemical data" is not the same as "worked with programming language and algorithms" in the way in which a computer scientist would work with programming languages and algorithms.
    – ff524
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:21
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    First of all, you do not have a CS skills or background just because you worked a lot with computers. For example, I don't think you can do and publish CS research beyond the basics. On the other hand you still can collaborate with colleagues from different departments eg CS, and you may also consider engineering departments or for profit software ventures.
    – Greg
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:51
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    I would suggest to explore either double affiliation (primary: chemistry; secondary: computer science) path, or additional affiliation with an interdisciplinary program, lab or institute. An alternative route would be to teach and do research in now extremely popular data science programs. Oct 14, 2015 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


With due attention to the fact that within that CS department, there might be many affiliated faculty members, are who proficient in programming and capable of teaching, your tendency might not, reasonably, lead to the desired outcome.

As the programming skills, nowadays, are essential for different scientific disciplines, I suggest you try to convince the department, in a proposal-based manner, to define a programming-driven course for students corresponding to your home department, you say, containing the fundamentals of the simulating chemical processes (If it has not been already existed, of course)...

Such scenario would sound more functional for you to follow your interest.


There's nothing wrong with trying. I've seen an economist housed in a nutrition department. I've seen a physicist housed in chemical engineering. I've seen a chemist housed in a fabric and fashion department -- and she did her research at the synchrotron.

It is helpful to have a strong ally -- someone to sponsor you, support your application every step of the way.

It might not be a bad idea to do some computer science coursework (if you haven't already), to counter the snobbish attitude toward programmers one sometimes encounters in computer science -- and to enrich your approach!

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