What’s it like to be a scientist?

I’ve been reading Science magazine for years, but this only marks me as a nerd, not as a scientist. If you want to learn a little about the day-to-day experiences of working scientists, I recommend reading the Working Life feature on the back page of Science. I don’t agree with everything I read there, but a lot of it speaks to me (and it also tells me how much, and how little, science has changed over the past 4 decades since I left graduate school).

Here’s an article that I encourage every student and colleague to read: Rescuing my time from science (Dr. Luca Rinaldi, Science, 23 Dec 2016). Dr. Rinaldi, a postdoctoral research fellow, writes about an important personal discovery: he had unintentionally allowed his life to be shaped by the signals he adsorbed from “colleagues’ behavior and the cultural expectations of academic research.”

Leaving his research lab very late one night, after missing dinner with his life partner hours earlier, he realizes,

… I was living in a sort of time warp – which was particularly ironic given that I was studying how daily activities shape our sense of time. Now, though, after years of allowing my work to take over my life, I’m reclaiming my power to decide how to spend my time.

It’s an important discovery for everyone to make. And to make again, and again.

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