Lately, I’ve seen a few posts/stories where ecologists and evolutionary biologists describe their path to science/ecology/evolutionary biology. These stories can be compelling, in part because they show the diversity of experiences. No two paths to a career as a scientist are the same! I think it would be useful to have the links all compiled in one place, hence this post. If you know of others, let me know in the comments or on twitter (@duffy_ma). And, if you don’t have a blog but want to share your story, you can post that in the comments, too!
- My path to ecology, by me (Meghan Duffy)
- My path to science, by Terry McGlynn
- My path to conservation science, by Dave Bennett
- My journey into the depths of science, by Asia Murphy
- Celebrating the village that “raised” me, by squirrelyred at Tenure, She Wrote
- A lie about my childhood and The most important day of my scientific career, by Markus Eichhorn
- How I got into ecology, by Jeremy Fox
- How I got here, by Auriel Fournier
- Back to Science, by Sarah Bennett
- Evolving a Naturalist, by Jeff Ollerton
- From the beginning: my path to ecology, by Margaret Kosmala
- The Seven Ages of an Entomologist — Happy 60th Birthday to Me, by Simon Leather
- Historia Natural de una Investigadora santarosensis, by Catherine Hulshof (if you don’t speak Spanish, don’t let the title keep you from clicking! It’s in English)
- The Paper Trail: Forests to ponds then back to forests, by Henry Wilbur (ht: Kristine Grayson) (updated link 9/13/16 to be to a freely available version of the piece; thanks to the ESA History Section for pointing out the free version!)
- Of mice, fisherman, and food, by Ray Hilborn
Interviews that cover the path to science/ecology:
- Emilio Bruna interview with Science
- Ethan White interview for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
- Lesley Morrell STEMinist profile
- Stephen Heard interview for People Behind the Science
- Rich Lenski interview with Molecular Ecologist
- Doug Sheil interview for Mongabay
“Personal Accounts” from the ESA Historical Records Committee:
- there are a ton of personal accounts at the link above. Click through to see all of the ecologists who are featured. The list is so long I can’t even easily screen cap it!
I first realized I was interested in science as a very young child. My retired-zoologist grandfather volunteered at the Boston Museum of Science and exploring the museum was always my favorite part of family vacations. In fact, I loved it so much, I ended up also volunteering or interning there for all four summers during high school.
I first realized I was interested in the biology of infectious diseases in high school. I enjoyed the section on HIV in my 10th grade biology class, and I was particularly inspired when we watched the movie And the Band Played On, which chronicles the story of the CDC epidemiologists trying to figure out and then stop the emerging epidemic in the 1980’s. At that point, I knew I wanted to be an epidemiologist or molecular biologist.
I first realized I was interested in ecology my sophomore year of college when I took a required (for biology majors) Ecology and Evolution class. Prior to that I didn’t understand how biology was organized into sub-disciplines. I loved how quantitative ecology was and the way we could use models and simulations to explain things. I also realized that I was really interested in population-level phenomena, and the interaction between organisms and their environment.
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My how-I-got-into-ecology story was part of my People Behind the Science podcast interview – http://www.peoplebehindthescience.com/dr-stephen-heard/
Here’s a contribution that deals with early influences: https://jeffollerton.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/evolving-a-naturalist/
I am struck by how many paths are influenced by family financial situations…
here is my story – posted when I turned 60
Latinas represent: https://catherinehulshof.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/historia-natural-de-una-investigadora-santarosensis/
Interesting range of stories.
I have always enjoyed the quirky aspects of natural history, but could never remember how to spell-scientific names so tended to focus on the maths and molecular stuff in my earlier student days.
The start of this recent interview covers a few other aspects for me. Hopefully of interest to some: https://news.mongabay.com/2014/07/next-big-idea-in-forest-conservation-the-double-edged-sword-of-democracy/