What is it that drew me to science and research originally? What are my interests, and how can I turn those into a career?
What originally drew me to academia is the pursuit of knowledge. The idea that with the research I could do, I could push the boundary of what is understood about life (or the universe and everything – I just happen to think the life part is pretty darn cool). That I could use this fantastic tool called SCIENCE to understand reality.
Once I started doing more research, I realized that while all the above is true, amazing, and worth spending a life on, the part of “science” that I have the most fun doing is communicating the story. Really, science is all about telling the story. You may have heard the adage “publish or perish!” – I know I have, far too many times. You can have all the research experience in the world, and no one cares unless you can put page numbers next to the title. If a tree falls in a space where there are no organisms with ears around to convert those vibrations with auditory nerves into “sounds”, did it make a sound? If the story only exists in your head… well, the story may still be true, but if no one knows about it, they can’t possibly care about it. I think that science is really investigative story telling of true stories.
Long, long before I was interested in biology, I wanted to be an author and an actor. I read far too many science fiction and fantasy novels, and was in love with theatre and drama. In grade 11 I thought in university I’d do a double major in computer science and theatre. In grade 12 I decided on a double in biology and theatre. Performance was always in the picture.
Yesterday I read this article. For some reason I came a way dejected. Why does telling true stories with and about science have to be so political and complicated?
For now, I’m going to stick to telling science stories as often, and with as many tools as I can. Some of that is easy (I’m already investigating unknown true stories with my research!). Some of it is on my own time and dime, and probably will continue that way… And for now, that’s okay too!
In the meantime, at least I have a sense of direction.