Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Science Policy

In case I wasn't already considering enough career options, I have decided to throw another one in the pile... science policy!

I was recently informed (by someone in science policy) that it is SO not what I thought it was. When I heard the phrase "science policy," I had always imagined people with science degrees that were pushing to have particular laws changed and having strong partisan affiliations  and possibly screaming SAVE THE WHALES. But in a professional way. It turns out that "science policy" is acting as a liaison between the scientists with their data and their public unfriendly p-values, and the politicians that don't understand the data and the p-values. You become a science translator for government officials. That sounds... kind of awesome. (Assuming that I've understood correctly... it's possible that I now have a totally NEW incorrect perception of science policy.)
There are a few things that I know that I'm good at and know that I'm interested in; the difficult part in deciding on a career path is what is best suited to those talents and interests. I, having no real-world job experience and a sub-human level of foresight, find this challenging. But I know I can teach, which is largely tied to my ability to communicate information effectively. Given a little expertise and time, I can distill the important bits of information out of a mess. I know I'm interested in how to communicate effectively and how those methods change with our culture. I'm interested in increasing the general public's awareness and understanding of natural sciences.

So does science policy belong in my pile?

#and for your daily dose of hilarity, I present to you:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good Enough

... yeah yeah yeah-yeah yeah yeah! Cyndi Lauper? Goonies? Come on, people.

I've been trying to come to terms lately with my own limitations as a scientist. Good transition, right? Inconsistent posting has definitely decreased my writing skillz... anyway. So I'm not as good at this scientist thing as I always thought I'd be. I am constantly plagued with the feeling that I'm not reading all the literature, I'm not controlling for all the confounding variables, I'm not asking new questions... and I find that difficult to accept and stay motivated.

It's obvious that we all haveto accept our limitations, that we all have to find "good enough" and do our best to get there. Right?

If that's so, what happens if I teach my daughter not to strive for perfection but to do her very best? Am I setting her up to be lazy and settle for a "good enough" that's not her best?

How do you cope with knowing you could be better, especially when you've made family a priority?
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