Step one to being a successful academic is getting the job. Much to my delight, I was able to check that one off the list when I joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in January 2015. Step number two, if you are an experimentalist, is to have a physical lab space. . . and on that front, there was a little bit of a delay. However, as of December 2015, the McKenzie Environmental Engineering Group (MEERG) has a place to call home as a result of renovating a former graduate student office space (sorry grad students) and turning into my laboratory space. One bonus in the delay – I was able to play a role in the layout of the lab. My research focuses on evaluated physicochemical processes that impact contaminant fate and transport, meaning that MEERG has to measure very low concentrations (e.g., parts per trillion). Dust is the enemy in this endeavor, as is contains not only major crustal elements (e.g., Si, Na, Fe, Ca, Al, K, Mg), but also can have metals and organic compounds adhering to the dust surface. Luckily, by playing a role in the lab design, the TU College of Engineering and I were able to implement a couple physical barriers to limit the amount of dust that will get into the lab space: a vestibuled entry, low-dust tiles, and a smaller room to house the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). Now I am onto the later steps of becoming a successful academic – recruiting high quality students (see next post!), writing proposals that will be funded, and producing important research.