Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Life as a scientist is really hard. I am sure there are many challenging professions, but being a scientist is one of them. We work many hours and face the constant failure of experiments waiting for the one time breakthrough that shall change the world but is only an incremental contribution to the whole. Granted, there are geniuses that actually changed the world, but to be honest, there are not so many of them. Most scientists might be smart, but not smarter than other professionals whose jobs require a certain curiosity and imagination, the ability to interpret the circumstances and to have an unerring eye for details. What makes it particularly difficult is the cost of our profession and the resulting necessity to acquire funding. I don't want to discuss here what the value of science is. However, science is expensive and despite all efforts to increase governmental spending, funds are limited. Watching my own progress and the progress of my peers it seems to be a lottery. As if it would not be hard enough to cope with serendipitous discovery one also has to handle the uncertainty of being funded. Personally, I am still in a lucky position, although I am unfunded, I do not have to fear my job. I even gained the advantage of improving my writing with endless fellowship applications. How lucky or unlucky I might consider myself in the moment, worry remains how to keep it all together once you have to provide your own salary and that of your mentees. And yes, it is February already. Where did the rest of the year go?