Monday, June 09, 2008

The worst jobs in science

MSN has put together a list of the "10 worst jobs in science" that are dirty or uncomfortable. Only one woman made the list:

Rosalind Rolland is a scientist at the New England Aquarium who "pioneered whale-feces research in 1999".

"It surprised even me how much you can learn about a whale through its feces," says Rolland, who recently published the most complete study of right whales ever conducted. "You can test for pregnancy, measure hormones and biotoxins, examine its genetics. You can even tell individuals apart."
Interestingly, Rolland uses specially-trained dogs to sniff out the floating whale poop from a distance. (Pictured are Rolland and Fargo)

Then there is Liz Warren, a postdoc in the Bioastronautics and Fundamental Space Biology Research Program at USRA, who studies the effect of gravity on physiology at Johnson Space Center. It's her test subjects who are the ones with the "worst" job, however. They spend 21 straight days in bed that's tilted head down, and only get a break to spend time in a centrifuge.

I doubt that any of the researchers profiled actually think that what they do is really "the worst" - more likely they find their jobs to be much more interesting and stimulating than sitting at a desk. And they don't mind getting a bit dirty.

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