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Academic Freedom

May 23, 2009

I was reading some old articles about NASA missions recently, and came upon the following quote from Mario Acuña, advising young people,

“…to believe in themselves and think less about money as a career goal. Above all, education, in particular math and science, gives you the freedom to choose what you do, rather than being told what to do.”

Of course we know this.  We here who read this site are often Ph.D. holders or seekers, those who are thoroughly invested in math and science, and on the path to fantastic careers.

The question is, what kind of careers?  Is the only appropriate route to planetary science that of Ph.D., postdoc, postdoc, postdoc, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, emeritus? Or maybe a career at a national lab, with the emphasis on research and less on teaching?  Or are there other routes?

Education gives you the freedom to choose what you do.  You can be an accomplished teacher, a brilliant researcher, an invested project scientist, a member of a team doing amazing things for research and exploration … the only question is, what will you choose, and does it work for you?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynnae permalink
    August 24, 2009 3:00 pm

    After completing my Ph.D, I’ve always wanted to end up working more at a national lab with less emphasis on teaching. Lately, that has evolved into hoping to spend most of my time as a planetary researcher at a national lab to maybe wanting to teach astronomy or planetary science as a visiting or adjuct faculty member at a medium sized university part time….

  2. May 26, 2009 10:15 pm

    Thanks, Kelsi. It’s not easy to take a different path … but sometimes, it is possible.

    (All I ever asked for was possible.)

  3. Kelsi permalink*
    May 26, 2009 12:37 pm

    Thanks for posting this, it is inspirational and thought provoking, a better way to say that there is more than one path to becoming a planetary scientist than just saying it. At least in my experience that is usually said without a whole lot of additional context, and framing it with thoughts about why or how this is (such as you did above linking it to the fact that we are educating ourselves and what this does for us) is much more meaningful.


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