So then, why pursue a career in science?
At the end of our stay in 2010 we gave an informal talk in the lounge on BCI. Most students and researchers do this at some time or another. Many explain their work and then entertain a host of questions from the crowd squeezed into the room on the couches and scattered about the floor or on empty crates. We, on the other hand, asked questions of our crowd. Here are some of their anonymous responses to 'why science?'.
“I always asked questions about how things worked and found the scientific answers the most convincing and intriguing as they created more questions. It is very satisfying to understand (to a certain extent) how living things function.”
“Initially, I started out desiring to be a medical doctor so I chose science subjects in high school. At the university level, I couldn’t handle the sight of blood, so I moved on to study botany, convinced that a world without plants was unimaginable with a lot to discover about the American Rainforest.”
“My science teacher taught how science works- the scientific method and how scientists find things out, rather than just the facts, which is what I got. Also, my biology education seemed oversimplified – no one ever told me that it was a lot more complicated than the simplified diagram I got so I was less likely to be interested in carrying it further because I didn’t realize how much more there was to ask and find out. Also, I thought that becoming a scientist was really hard and only old crazy intelligent nonsocial men became them. But scientists are sociable!”
“Amazement at the natural world. Inquisitive nature – I ask questions and science is the route to answering them. Fascinated by the complexity and diversity of life and living organisms. You can never be bored as a scientist and can never run out of aspects to investigate.”
“Science is very dynamic and unpredictable, these two features make it the most rewarding activity. I like science because it gives sense to my life as I try to answer one question after another.”
“I was always fascinated by dinosaurs when I was little, and that curiosity lead me to be interested in animals, especially lizards and snakes, because they are like living dinosaurs (well not really, birds are actually.) Then I wanted a microscope and one year my parents got me a magnifying glass. When I turned 12 my parents finally got me that microscope and that was it. Dinosaurs and looking at things close up. That was all I was interested in for years. Then in college I started to love plants because they were new. I have always loved discovery.”
“[I went into science] because I want to learn more about science and the environment that is all around us.”
“I decided to study ecology because it fulfills all the criteria I sought in a job. I wanted a career that was intellectually challenging, provided opportunities to travel to interesting places, and allow for me to have a positive impact on society. Ecology is definitely challenging, requiring application of many different scientific disciplines; tropical ecology requires travel to beautiful and fascinating places, and if it closely ties to biodiversity conservation.”
“[I was inspired by] a book in a school library and gardening with my father.”
“I found myself interested in EVERYTHING; filmmaking, journalism, art, psychology. . . if I had it my way I would have been able to do it all, but I decided that biology: relationships, interactions between (especially non-human) living things was the most important thing I could spend my life doing. Nothing else was crucial... or as enthralling.”
“Nature has always inspired and amazed me. I decided to choose science to answer my curiosity about various aspects of nature, to learn more in the process and to participate in the cycle of questioning and answering and more questioning and answering.”
“I had a great biology teacher at school who did interesting experiments and knew loads! Also I always liked asking questions and trying to work at answers.”
“I used to eat ants and wondered why no one else did.”
So, what do you want to do with your career? Why?