We all as graduate students get asked this question a lot; by family, friends, future employers, grant committees, scholarship committees, colleagues: “What do you want to do after grad school?”. That dark, heavy looming question that always makes us stop and think in the back of our heads, “I’m just trying to get through this month, let alone the rest of my life”, or “I don’t even know what jobs are out there let alone have a specific one in mind” or my personal favourite, “stop judging me”.
And I’ve been honest on a lot of applications where I answer that I don’t know, that I want these specific things (insert list here) and that I’m willing to venture out of the typical jobs associated with a PhD to try just about any research position out there.
When we were kids we were often told that the sky is the limit and in some cases that may be partially true, and yet it’s really not. Or so I thought. This week I got an email from a work colleague asking me to be a reference for them; something I have done fairly frequently after working with such large research crews and worked on large teams of research scientists in the Arctic. But this was a special request. They wanted me to a reference for the Canadian Space Agency Astronaut program. And seriously, I thought it was spam. Most definitely spam, and I proceeded to email this person to confirm that it was to ensure that I didn’t click on any of the links and get some weird virus taking over my computer. As it turns out, this was a legitimate request.
A fellow research scientist in biology with a doctorate, it eligible and indeed quite a good candidate to be an astronaut. Who would have thought?! And how inspiring when you think about it. Not only am I proud to know this person and believe them to be qualified for many wonderful career paths in this life, but I found myself suddenly very motivated and proud of my accomplishments. I work hard and have acquired though be it somewhat unique skills, they are specialized highly disciplined skills. And at the end of the day I might not know what I want to do after grad school, but the sky is the limit, or even better yet, to ‘infinity and beyond’.
Perhaps this post is targeted at a very small group of people but if can help just one person, then I feel I’ve done my job. Woman in science are tough cookies. We do not usually think of our physical limitations being slightly smaller and slightly weaker in the upper body region than our male counterparts because we do not submit to any physical limitations except for the rarest of circumstances. But some days, it’s just a little tough to carry 60 lbs while dragging a 100 lbs hockey bag and trying not to huff and puff or let a tiny tear escape out of exhaustion. I’m not above asking for help, but again, this is only under specific circumstances. Last summer I was quite physical in the field, you are moving, walking, lugging, carrying or at least standing with gear hanging from each limb every day for 9 weeks. I dropped a fair amount of weight and little bicep muscles started to become defined on my usually rather soft arms. I felt a-mazing, nothin’ could touch me.
However, there was one object I had to carry everyday that really gave me trouble; our firearms. Now, this is the most essential item I needed to have on me at all times. And yet, it was the one I groaned about the most. Shotguns and rifles are bulky, long, heavy and have terrible straps that press hard across your chest. I had enough items hanging around my neck and chest; binoculars, gps, radio, backpack filled with stuff….And then a shotgun sling. Straps were fighting each other and I even had one weak momentary breakdown where I clawed at all the straps, begging them to release me. Because after walking 20 km/day with a shotgun strap digging across your chest, we females can be a little irritable….
So this time around, I did a little research (cause that’s what all scientists do; regardless of the subject matter) and found some alternative ways to carry a firearm.
Check it out, the 24 RUSH Pack with added Rifle Sleeve attachment. Easily carried and easily accessed in the event of it being needed. Now, I can be safer and more comfortable and not beg my technicians to carry the firearm for me. Be safe out there scientists!
We now have a unifying logo that will appear on the home pages of those linked through northofthegrid.com; on the Young Northern Scientists Network. Watch for our logo on the websites of those doing northern research!
This network logo was designed and drawn by one of northofthegrid’s very own veteran crew members Victoria Putinski. You can see her profile under “crews” on this website or find her on http://fluffy-fuzzy-ears.deviantart.com to see more of her amazing artwork. In addition to this great logo, Victoria has produced several incredible pieces of artwork for me depicting various arctic-breeding shorebird species including Red Phalarope, Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, all featured below. There are others but I’m reserving them for another day. 😀
Ms. Allie Anderson is in her first year as a PhD student at Trent University, Ontario Canada. Check out her research and work experience along with other interesting photos on her personal site: http://northofthegrid.com/AllieAnderson/
Allie has extensive experience working with raptors and is transitioning into shorebirds and the use of James Bay as a staging area for migrants.
Welcome Allie to the Young Northern Scientists Network with Northofthegrid.com