Category Archives: Science Careers

Transitioning from Researcher to Outreacher

Shelley Bolderson was scraping mud from a trowel one day in an Anglo-Saxon midden in St. Neots, United Kingdom, when she realized she didn’t want to be an archaeologist any longer. “It was winter, and I’d spent ages on that particular site,” she recalls. “It was really kind of soul-destroying work.”

Until that point, Bolderson had worked as a freelance archaeologist around England, mostly in urban environments, where she assessed building sites before development. She had a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Southampton in the U.K. and wasn’t interested in doing a master’s or Ph.D. She sought temporary work while deciding what to do next.

One of her temporary jobs was at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. in the office that coordinates the Cambridge Science Festival, an annual, weeklong event that shares Cambridge-area science research with the public. “I saw a new career I had no idea existed beforehand and thought it looked really exciting,” she says. When a position coordinating the science festival opened up in the office, Bolderson applied for it.

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A Scientist’s Roadmap to Capitol Hill

Follow the money that drives science research in the United States, and more often than not you’ll end up in Washington, D.C. The dollars don’t reach labs on their own, though: Institutions, interest groups, and individuals help legislators decide what to fund — and science competes with every other federal program for resources.

This year scientific research is one of the few areas slated to gain ground in the proposed federal budget, but that budget is not law yet. “If people want to see the research and development funding increase they’re going to need to get up there and say, ‘Look we feel that we need those increases, they’re vital for the future, they’re vital for job creation [and] our future economic competitiveness,'” said Bob Simon, staff director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, at a session of the American Association of the Advancement of Science conference, on Saturday in San Diego, California.
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Coming to America: Doing a postdoc in the U.S.

ameripostdocWhen Swedish neuroscientist Jens Hjerling-Leffler moved to New York University (NYU) in New York City for a postdoc in 2007, he found life so exciting in the city that never sleeps that he never wanted to shut his eyes. “I actually didn’t sleep very much my first year,” he says. “There’s this idea that you’re going to work a lot, and then when you’re done you’ve got the whole city at your doorstep.”

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The Ups and Downs of Doing a Postdoc in Europe

JessicaTorrey_200_3The thing that helped Jessica Torrey get over her homesickness during the first few months of her postdoc at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Erlangen, Germany, was beer. More specifically, it was a regular gathering at a beer hall: She took a 30-minute train ride to Nürnberg to attend a weekly stammtisch, a regular gathering in which locals and foreigners meet over drinks and practice their English and German. “At first, it was a conscious effort to seek out other people,” Torrey says. “I had to show up at a bar and hope that there would be friendly people, … but it turned out that was one of the groups where I made the most friends.”

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