I took issue recently with the stance of one ChemBark commenter, eugene, who stated:
"...I sincerely hope [the "superstar mentality"] doesn’t go to any young professors’ heads in the future. Not only will you be vastly overestimating your ‘coolness factor’ with society at large, but you should focus on the science and your job please..."
|Familiar scene for the "blog nerds"|
Source: U Chicago blog Science Life
A few lines before this, eugene refers to the "hype...created by the chemistry blog nerd community." (referring, no doubt, to Chemjobber's satirical piece about Dan Nocera's move to Harvard). Let's mull on that epithet: blog nerd community. I think that, by and large, we chem-bloggers enjoy this gig, which is critical because we don't really make our living here - we're all scientists by day, and writers after hours. Our online community encourages, supports, and challenges us. And sure, we're nerds . . .didn't you hear that that's cool nowadays?
But I digress. Back to eugene's comments: "...focus on the science and your job, please." I must know, what's so wrong with wanting recognition for hard work?
|Hey, it's my grad school advisor!|
You've all heard the oft-repeated stigma, chemists as introverts, passing up individual glory, monastically devoted to our work until we die at our benches, pipette in hand. There's an ingrained mentality at work here, stating that the discipline is bigger than any one scientist. Chemists write all of their procedures in passive voice, deferring credit, as if the flasks and reagents had jumped up and performed the reactions themselves. I feel like eugene's comments boil down to: "Sit down, shut up, work hard, and hope it all works out."
Derek Lowe recently wrote a telling editorial, in which he explored reasons why most students shy away from work in STEM fields. Quoth the Pipeline:
"...if money and social standing are your motivating factors, you've probably ruled out the sciences for those reasons alone...I definitely did not go into science to become rich.
There's another factor that doesn't get as much attention as it should: It takes a certain personality type to really get into this stuff. "Yes, it does," I can hear people saying, "and it's the one that we call nerdy." That can help, true, although not all of us in the labs live the stereotype"
|Happiest scientist I could find!|
(Although her PPE is not quite right...)
Chemists: When you go to work today, before you slip on your lab coat and gloves, pause a second to think about all the time and effort you expended to be standing in front of your hood. Enjoy it - you're a superstar.