Solar Week - Ask a Question

Come here during Solar Week (next one: March 22-26, 2021) to interact. To post a question, click on your area of interest from the topics below, and then click on the "Ask New Question" button. Or EMAIL or tweet or plant in Answer Garden your question about the Sun or life as a scientist to us -- and watch for it to appear here.  You can also visit our FAQs (frequently asked questions). In between Solar Weeks in October and March, you can view all the archives here.

PrevPrev Go to previous topic
NextNext Go to next topic
Last Post 10/16/2020 1:11 PM by  Kris Sigsbee
Being a scientist
 3 Replies
You are not authorized to post a reply.
Author Messages



10/13/2020 3:05 PM
    [email] Are there things you don't like about being a scientist?

    Christina Cohen

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/13/2020 7:08 PM
    There are a few things... I'm not sure they are exactly tied to being a scientist though. Mostly they are non-science things I have to do as part of my job. For instance, I don't really enjoy writing grant reports. I enjoy doing the science that the grants pay for. I enjoy writing the papers and giving the talks that explain what we've accomplished with the grant money. But, I don't love writing the yearly reports along the way, trying to explain what we've done so far.

    I will say that there are times when I get frustrated while doing the science. This is usually because I can't quite figure out how to explain what I'm seeing in the data. And that's usually because I don't fully understand the physics of the system. Sorting through that and trying to find the explanations is, in the end, great. But sometimes it takes a long time to get there.

    Claire Raftery

    New Member

    New Member

    10/16/2020 9:58 AM
    One of the things I struggle with as a scientist is that the work we do doesn't always have a direct impact on people. It definitely does in the long run (especially work in the area of space weather) but unlike the medical field, or earth science for example, solar physics is a little more removed. I got around that personal challenge by transitioning my career from reach to education and outreach. So now my role is to engage kids like you in how awesome space can be, which I find much more rewarding.

    Another challenge is how we're paid. In general, scientists apply to government organizations like the National Science Foundation or NASA for money to do their research. That money pays for their wages, computers, lab space if they need it, internet access etc - all the things you need to be able to do your science. However, the process of getting that money is quite challenging and can make it difficult to feel secure sometimes. Its a bit more like being self employed than having a regular job. Which is great in that it gives you lots of freedom to pursue your own passions and questions, but also a little stressful because you need to make sure the money is still coming in. There are alternatives to this, where you can work in a "service" position, where you're paid to perform a duty for a mission or a project or observatory (in my case), and in return you get some of your time to conduct your research. You don't have as much freedom as you would if you work only on grant money, but you generally have a lot more security and longevity in your job.

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/16/2020 1:11 PM
    I agree with Claire that writing grant proposals is one of the hardest things we do. A lot of work goes into writing a proposal, and there is a very good chance that even if you have a well-written proposal it will not be funded. Claire mentioned that it is a bit easier if you work in a service position for an observatory. It is also a little bit easier if you are able to get a tenure track faculty position, where usually about 9 months of your salary is paid by teaching, and you only need to write proposals for your summer salary or to support graduate students and post-docs. However, there are a lot of scientists like me who are solely supported by research grants, and it does feel a bit insecure at times.
    You are not authorized to post a reply.

    Twitter Feed

    Scientist Leaderboard

    Name # of replies
    Multiverse skin is based on Greytness by Adammer