Over at Powell’s Books, we have contributed an original essay about the new generation of “Renaissance scientists” that we see emerging today from the world of academe. The piece opens with the story of our friend and fellow blogger Jessica Palmer–who hosts Biophemera on Scienceblogs–and goes on to discuss emerging opportunities in the sciences and beyond for the talented students now coming down the pipeline.
The article starts like this:
To qualify as a scientist, Jessica Palmer has ticked off all the right boxes. She received her Ph.D. from a top research institution, the University of California at Berkeley, in molecular and cell biology. She published original research, on the genetics of nervous system development in fruit flies, in Neuron and BMC Neuroscience. And at a time when academic jobs are scarce, especially in the biological sciences, she won a tenure-track faculty position after graduating, and started to pull in grants.But then she gave it all up. She started a science blog called Bioephemera and went to work in science policy in Washington, D.C. This fall, she will matriculate at Harvard Law School.
“I was labeled pretty early on a troublemaker, for not wanting to go the research route,” laughs Palmer when asked about her career choices. It started at Berkeley, where she felt constrained by the limited teaching experience and scant opportunities to bring her work out of the lab and into the public arena. “In graduate school, everybody wants you to publish your first three or four first author papers, and then go on to a postdoc,” says Palmer. Yet she wanted to write for nonscientific audiences. Soon she helped found a publication, the Berkeley Science Review, to give young scientists the chance to do just that.
Palmer is one of a growing number of young interdisciplinary scientists for whom the traditional career path — a trip through the academic pipeline that eventually ends in becoming a version of one’s mentor, a professor — makes less and less sense….
Continue reading “The New Scientists” here.