Monday, May 27, 2013

Scientists are Multidimensional

Truth in advertising. I have not been featured in the Tumbler project by Allie Wilkinson on what a scientist looks like. But my former TSTC student, Adam Hiill, was featured on "looks like science" on February 2012. (I never promised breaking news!) Many of us don't venture out to Tumblr, but Millennials do. I favor any such attempt to break down stereotypes of who a scientist is or what a scientist does. If a given potential scientist can't see themselves among the images of a scientist they regularly encounter, then there is a reduced chance that she or he will enter our field. There is also the myth that one needs to have a singularity of purpose in order to succeed in science. Yet I personally know scientists (with tenure!) who play the bagpipes, rock with popular bands, play the piano at symphony halls, win triathlons, climb El Capitan, dive in corral reefs, hang with the President, and the list goes on. The truth is that succesful scientists tend to have broad interests. It's just that we don't often share them with each other!

So if you're a research scientist, do you always keep your conversations with other colleagues strictly on science? Do you have hidden talents or interests that you don't usually share? Not doing so may even have a professional price. Without the personal connection, you may find yourself less connected to your colleagues and less likely to collaborate. Meanwhile, if your students see that you are able to maintain such balance, they might be more willing to perceive science as a rewarding career with some sort of work-life balance.


  1. Some of my most productive science discussions have happened while doing long-exposure photography alongside fellow chemist Brendan Abolins (co-author of our Decaseconds Photography site).

    1. Or on hikes with other TSRC workshop participants in Telluride, CO!