Thursday, June 21, 2007

In and Out of Science

CAD at VWXYNot? has two great posts that talk about why she got into science and, after getting a PhD, why she got out of research. (Also see R. Ford Denison's response "Who should consider grad school in science?")

CAD didn't have a single reason: it was the long hours, it was the low pay, it was the lack of job security, it was because she enjoyed writing more than doing experiments. There was nothing in her post that I found particularly surprising, because those are all reasons that I dropped out of research a decade ago. And, like CAD, I still love science, and still think (I think) like a scientist. There is a heated discussion going on over on ScienceBlogs about scientist-journalist interactions (see Cotournix's roundup and Janet Stemwedel's subsequent post. It seems to me that more people with science backgrounds going into science communication (as CAD plans to) can only improve the situation. Does working as a science communicator rather than a experimentalist mean that one is no longer a scientist? I'd like to think not.

ETA: CAD would like everyone to know that the her research on endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) does not support creationism, despite the claims of Reasons to Believe.

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VWXYNot? said...

Thank you for the link! I'm just getting started on my blog and I really appreciate the support.

I haven't been following the debate about scientists' interactions with journalists, but I'll have to have a look. Long term, a freelance writing career would definitely appeal to me, but factors such as a scary new mortgage preclude such a risky career change at the moment.