Perspectives from a Young Scientist

As a fledgling Earth Scientist, with aspirations to make significant contributions to the field of Geology, I have found navigation of the scientific enterprise quite challenging. It turns out I am not alone!

At the Future of Research Symposium held this past October in Boston, hundreds of post-docs and graduate scientists gathered to identify the obstacles preventing young scientists from moving forward in all fields of science. The ultimate result of this congregation was a call for reform – reform of the research enterprise, which is comprised of academia, industry, publishing, and government. Collectively, the group proposed three main tenets for scientific reform:

  1. Connectivity among junior scientists
  2. Balance between employment and training at the postdoctoral level
  3. Increased investment in young scientists, independent of PI research grants

To accomplish this proposed reform requires a larger role for graduate students and post-docs. We must be aware of our importance within the scientific enterprise, and use our power to shape the future of scientific research.

With little experience conducting research, many young scientists struggle to understand their roles in the research process, especially at the master’s and early PhD levels. It is often difficult to believe in ourselves and our individual abilities, especially when we are so heavily influenced by our advisors. We tend to trust their opinions more than our own, mainly because we know they have the experience. But we need to think for ourselves. We are the only ones in this field who can offer fresh perspectives and alternative ways of interpreting data.

In the words of Dr. Seuss:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

We are intelligent. We have the ability to discover. We are the future of science.

To read more about the 2014 Future of Science Symposium, click here.