How do you end up a Scientist doing research in beautiful places?
This story (and video above) starts at a beautiful field site in Thailand with Dr. Mike Gil, Marie Biologist. It’s in these moments he stops to think, “How did I get here? How did I get this golden ticket?” And, how can he share with others how to start a journey down a similar path?
So, how did he get here?
Now, obviously it’s not about how did he physically get to a gorgeous remote bay in Thailand. Technically, you can just go on vacation for that.
The real question: How can you go about following your passion as a scientist and allowing your interests and creativity to lead you throughout your career? How do you become a career scientist?
A lot of what SciAll is all about is brining in a diverse group of career scientists to answer that question from many different perspectives. But, to start there’s one big hurdle to get over…
The Intimidation Factor
This is something that is rarely talked about, but it’s important to shed light on. When Dr. Gil was starting out in undergrad, he actually started school as a Journalism major. At one point he had a field experience that made him want to be a scientist. When he was first a science hopeful and starting down the career scientists path, he was incredibly intimidated.
Every time he interacted with a scientists, which definitely included graduate students not just senior professional scientists, he was sooo intimidated! They were so on top of their stuff. They really knew what they were talking about, and spoke with such confidence and knowledge.
So he thought, “I don’t think I’m smart enough.”
Intelligence actually begets intelligence
Finally, he realized that if we define intelligence as the ability to retain knowledge and execute complicated tasks, you can absolutely get smarter and smarter.
And, that’s what happens.
It’s what happened to Dr. Gil. He worked hard, and was a good student. But, he was absolutely unprepared to become a scientist. It took a lot of work to get there, and that work started out really challenging because at first he didn’t understand what he was doing and why he was doing it. Once he understood what he was doing, and why it mattered to develop such a deep and wide knowledge base and extensive skillset – incorporating things like mathematics and computer coding into the work – it got better.
If you have an incentive to do it, you can do it. You don’t have to be a genius.
You can start out, not that smart.
Maybe you were someone who didn’t do very well in school? Dr. Gil has friends that are some of the most brilliant scientists he knows, but did poorly in the normal K-12 and even college. Once they figured out their passion for learning certain stuff, they then became “extremely intelligent” in the eyes of everyone around them. They’re now very knowledgeable about those things they really cared about.
So, if you think you’re not that smart because you haven’t done that well in school, but you have a gut feeling you might want to pursue science (or something that is perceived to require a high level of intelligence) don’t write yourself off yet. In most cases, you’re capable of becoming “smart”. And maybe, very smart and very intelligent.
Some people, may even end up calling you a genius
Dr. Gil remembers a talk he attended about people with incredible memory recall. The presenter mentioned that to him they were geniuses. But, the people who had the “great memory” said no… it’s just practice. Intrigued, he started to practice himself as part of his journalistic endeavor and became one of the best memorizers in the world!
There’s a ton of room to grow, and you get better at being smarter
It’s the absolute truth. It’s happened to Dr. Gil, and all his colleagues. So, don’t write yourself off too early!
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