1. I'm super pumped about the students. Mentoring grads and undergrads will be a lot of fun.
2. Working on my own stuff. I've got ideas flying through my brain all the time. Having a lab where I can actually apply these ideas, even if they won't result in a profit, is going to be a blast! I got to work on a lot of my own stuff in industry, but there were always a few projects where some board member came to my group directly and forced us to spend half of our time on some business-critical project.
3. I won't report to anyone! I can't stress how great this will be. I don't want to worry about making sure that some guy that's just trying to climb the corporate ladder gets his data to present to more guys trying to climb the ladder. I want to go in and out when I want. I didn't appreciate this freedom when I had it in grad school, but I'll appreciate it now!
4. Being around students. I'm not just talking about mentoring them. I'm convinced that being around young people keeps you young. I notice I'm sharper when the people around me are energetic. I'm really looking forward to that again.
5. The college town. I'm moving from a very big city to a college town. I really like college towns because you get the diversity of things to do, food, people, etc of a big city, but the ease of driving and personalities of a smaller city. I love the sense of community that college towns have. I'll miss all the things to do, and experiencing the expanded cultural opportunities the big city offers, but I won't miss the commuting and cost if living.
6. Being able to talk about what I'm working on. Things are very secretive in industry. One leaked secret could cost your company hundreds of millions of dollars. So I could never talk about my stuff even though it's all really badass and deserves to be talked about. I'm going to talk about my stuff with anyone that will listen!
7. Outfitting my lab. I did this in my current lab, but I picked things that would be needed to get my company's work up and running. I'm looking forward to buying my own computer and equipment that best serve the research I'm interested in.
8. Public outreach. Universities love putting research in the forefront. I was interviewed by media and donors in grad school several times about my research. Like #6, I'm looking forward to being part of a community and putting my research out into the world.
As my time in industry has come to a close, I've been riding the emotional roller coaster. It's been a crazy few years. I'm leaving behind a group that I led to a lot of great things, but my number 2 is taking charge and she'll be awesome (and she'll hopefully throw some research money my way).
I've left behind a bunch of friends again (leaving behind friends when I left grad school was insanely emotional), and I've been crying a lot, and I can't help but wonder if I'm making the correct decision. I've noticed that with each move I feel more and more alone because I'm stuck trying to make new friends again.
But I think it will all be worth it.