RE: science career horror stories

Crosby_M (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 12:03:37 -0400

Astronomer Alan Hale laments:
<Like I'm sure is true for many of you, I was inspired by the
scientific discoveries and events taking place during my childhood to
pursue a career in science only to find, after completing the rigors
of undergraduate and graduate school, that the opportunities for us to
have a career in science are limited at best and are which I usually
describe as "abysmal." Based upon my own experiences, and those of you
with whom I have discussed this issue, my personal feeling is that,
unless there are some pretty drastic changes in the way that our
society approaches science and treats those of us who have devoted our
lives to making some of our own contributions, there is no way that I
can, with a clear conscience, encourage present-day students to pursue
a career in science.>

While an anecdotal survey of 'science career horror stories' would
certainly be interesting, and might even be useful, I sense that Alan
Hale is hoping that this could somehow be used to lobby for more
government funding of the sciences.

I can imagine a situation where, with the right type of marketing, a
bumper-crop of astronomer and physicist wanna-be's could be produced
for which there is simply not enough societal need or demand. Is Hale
trying to say that everyone who wants to star-gaze for a living should
have the opportunity to do so?!

After spending several years through my early twenties studying things
on my own, wandering the country and learning several trades, I
realized I should go to school and begin a professional career. Given
my aptitudes and dispositions, I thought there was nothing I'd rather
be than a hydrographer. Well, a little market research soon told me
that there wasn't that great a demand for hydrographers; so, I
switched to 'computers' - actually systems science, as I was always
more interested in software than hardware. Anyway, I don't regret not
becoming a hydrographer...

Mark Crosby

Mark Crosby