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Scientist provides insight for those entering fields of research

Rachel Craft

Issue date: 10/30/09 Section: Focus
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Philip Schwartzkroin's new book, So You Want to Be a Scientist offers
Philip Schwartzkroin's new book, So You Want to Be a Scientist offers "real life situations" and debunks social myths about the lives and careers of researchers and scientists.
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If you're a confused college student, still grasping for some direction in your life, you may have considered a career in research at some point. It's a little daunting to think about, being such a broad field, but Philip Schwartzkroin's helpful book, So You Want to be a Scientist? makes it surprisingly navigable. Schwartzkroin has obviously experienced what students are going through: his clear and entertaining narrative outlines the whole process, from applying to grad school to working in a faculty position. He explains the challenges and opportunities students will encounter at every step of the journey, and provides advice and encouragement along the way.

Schwartzkroin opens with two chapters on getting started in a career in research: deciding whether his readers want said career and, if so, how they can go about obtaining it. He describes some of the traits that characterize successful and content scientists; for instance, they need a strong work ethic and a healthy curiosity, and they have to learn to think like scientists. He draws an intriguing corollary between science and art ­- since nothing is treated as absolute truth, science is to some degree abstract, and, like any more traditional art form, the work of a scientist must be learned and refined. More importantly, like any artist, scientists should genuinely love what they do. They should be excited by new ideas and developments and see the beauty in the process of discovery. If they do, the years of toil will be more than worth the effort. As Schwartzkroin points out, while science does offer material rewards (wealth, recognition, security), the benefits of intellectual exploration, stimulating company, and personal fulfillment are far more meaningful when considering research as a career.

Although the initial decision to pursue research may well be the hardest part, it certainly is not the only obstacle. Schwartzkroin addresses the other challenges in an outline of the general path followed by an aspiring scientist, including suggestions on what to consider in choosing graduate and postdoctoral programs, as well as an overview of available positions in a lab, such as principle investigator (PI) and research scientist. Some of the most helpful facets of the book were the "real-life problems" included in every chapter: Schwartzkroin poses practical questions that most scientists have to confront at some point in their career, such as choosing the next step to take while working as a graduate student. He discusses possible options and important factors to consider, as well as guidelines to making the decision yourself. He also makes a point to say that, even after selecting a graduate program, "you can change your mind." Anyone just starting out in the field could appreciate Schwartzkroin's insight and friendly reassurance.
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In This Issue

News

  • A conversation with Keith Lupton
  • Attempts to balance Ohio budget face ever-changing obstacles
  • Can you name this place?
  • CWRU loses to Oberlin in first round of most vegetarian-friendly college contest
  • Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing receives $3.7 million in federal stimulus grants
  • Have you heard about National Society of Collegiate Scholars?
  • Overheard at Case
  • SEC votes to hold referendum on Media Board salaries
  • The college student's guide to credit cards
  • USG Briefs

Sports

  • Cuban is wrong on steroids
  • Suddenly swift
  • Teams kick off season at Rochester

Fun Page

  • Combo Scramble Solution
  • Maze Solution
  • Sudoku Solutions

Opinion

  • 'Home' for the holidays
  • Editorial: Campus vegetarian options don't always deliver
  • On gay rights, Constitution does not apply morality to equality
  • Rwandan genocide convicts should serve sentences in home country
  • SafeRide/campus escorts need improvement
  • Sex not a joking matter
  • State your case: What's the best way to kill a zombie?
  • US culture sets down roots in Argentina

Focus

  • Coen brothers' A Serious Man proves to be serious
  • Diaz, Marsden, Kelly speak about new morality drama, The Box
  • Hitting the Spot: Other Girls
  • Mather Dance Center assembles fall collection of dance pieces to be collectively performed as Returning
  • Nutrition: Mac 'n' cheese done healthy
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern probes questions
  • The Buzz
  • The hottest hair for 2009: dress up your tresses
  • The Starving Student Report: brief reviews of local eateries

Cross Country

  • Host Spartans finish second in conference women's race, eighth in men's

Football

  • Football Gameday: Case vs. Carnegie Mellon
  • Ground game carries Spartans to 8-0

Soccer

  • Spartans outplay, but can't outlast Emory and stay winless in UAA
  • Spartans secure winning season; team regionally ranked

Spartan Spotlight

  • Spartan Spotlight: Jenna Yaney

Worst Case Scenario

  • The stalker's futility
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