At first I thought such a post was good for the About page but now I think it makes a lot more sense as a blog post. In 2012, Kevin Zelnio started an ‘I am science’ post in his blog of how he ended up in science. He was also interested in hearing about other scientists’ journeys. The response was overwhelming and he started a kickstarter project with the goal in his words: ‘to break down the scientist stereotype and highlight how much diversity of backgrounds really exist in science, where stereotypes in Hollywood and the media have done massive damage to the field. To reduce barriers to accessing this resource, the e-book will be made freely available for all major digital platforms (Kindle, iPad, Nook, pdf).’
Reading everyone’s stories is truly fascinating because we all took different paths here and the thing is the destination is not the same. There are truly many different careers in science. So don’t let what you think is out there discourage you from pursuing science. When reading through some of these, I even came across my undergraduate research advisor’s #IamScience post, which I highly recommend that you read: click this! I have included my brief story below.
I am a third year PhD student in Professor Surita Bhatia’s lab within the Department of Chemistry at Stony Brook University. I do not study chemistry specifically; I work on improving the mechanical properties of multicomponent nanocomposite hydrogels for wound dressing and tissue engineering applications, which sure sounds like a mouthful. Breaking it down, what I study is a jello-like material that is made up of three components and I am trying to find a recipe that will give me the strongest jello to use as a bandaid for serious cuts and burns. I did not ever see myself working on cooking up the strongest ‘jello-like bandaid’ while I was in college or even before that but I always saw myself in science.
I grew up watching the Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy and both television shows contributed greatly to my interest in taking up something in science as my choice career. One field of science did not take up more of my love than another. In elementary school, every few weeks we would receive a Scholastic pamphlet to order books and kits. This was huge because it was the time before internet for most people so books were the prime source of information besides the TV. What I really loved about the Scholastic pamphlets were the hands-on science kits. Each box contained a new little world to be explored. I learned about different rocks, monitored the weather especially during thunderstorms, tried to make a working motor, and many more.
For college, I really had no direction in which field to take up because I was interested in everything. In my Bio II class, I befriended my TA and found out that she was conducting research as an undergraduate student in a protein engineering lab and believing that this was my chance to get my hands dirty, I asked about how to join and contacted Professor Jin Montclare. My time was there was very stressful when coupled with courses and TAing that I took up but it was probably one of the best decisions I made. She really stressed about asking questions and everyone in the lab was very supportive and enthusiastic about what they were doing. It was a great environment to foster a confused undergraduate student. In the lab and in group meeting, I not only saw the action described by the journal publications and finally saw concepts that we learned in courses being applied to real world applications, I was finally a real part of it.
During my time there, I had was given the opportunity to help develop a pilot course to get 7th grade girls to be interested in chemistry and biology. I even had the chance to start and work on the website. It was then I decided that I had to be in research but also try to find time to reach out to others, particularly the younger generation and get them hyped about science. So it feels like I am taking forever to get to it, but what I needed and what everyone needs, is that role model/mentor figure that really encourages you to do good science, to ask more questions and to always be curious. I was fortunate to have several – Miss Frizzle, Bill Nye, my lab mates, my 6th grade teacher, Professor Jin Montclare and really all of my science teachers. So thanks to all of you for helping me shape who I am. I am science.
I am going to repeat it again, don’t let what you think is out there discourage you from pursuing science. Ask questions, but do try to do some research on the topic before you just go around asking questions. Be curious and don’t give up!
What’s your story?
1) Professor Montclare’s lab also has a blog. So check it out to see what cool science they are cooking up.
2) Professor Bhatia also has a research page so please visit to see what we are doing in the lab.