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alt.PhD

Kate McCain MCCAINKW at DUVM.OCS.DREXEL.EDU
Thu Dec 17 14:30:46 EST 1992


Well yes -- one does get discouraged.  In a former life, when I was a
practicing biologist, I discovered that I was a 19th century biologist in a
20th century world -- particularly with respect to emphasis on benchwork and
funding. (Actually, I wanted to be a field geologist, but this was 25 years
ago and my uncle told me -- no-- there is no place for women in field geology.
You will have to be a micropaleontologist and spend your time sitting at a
desk looking at small colonial encrusting animals under a microscope. So I
became a biologist -- MS in marine biology -- focus on bryozoans -- and spent
part of my time sitting at a desk looking through a microscope ...)  I
loathed the idea of grant getting (still do and am not good at it, either) and
also was uncomfortable with the fast-paced, competitive atmosphere I
encountered in the fundable areas of biomedicine. So I drifted a few years,
sans PhD.  Other correspondents are right -- it's hard to get "respect."

However

There _are_ alternatives with or without the microbiology PhD in my current
field -- library & information science/information studies/information systems.
I drifted into this as a result of a "spouse job" (getting something where my
spouse was) -- in this case, running the Biology Library at Temple University
after two years of adjunct teaching in the biology department at the College
of Staten Island. I found myself interested in information needs, information
seeking behavior, information use of _biologists_ and encountered
1) bibliometrics as a way of doing "natural history of literatures" or
perhaps quantitative history of science and 2) the College of Information
Studies at Drexel here in Philly as a place I could do it. I did a PhD in
4 years (entered post-masters).

Cut to the chase.  I am currently a tenured associate professor who loves
her teaching, can do lots of interesting research that _doesn't_ need high
levels of funding and gets to spend time hanging out with biologists (I
have worked in/on several areas of genetics, marine sciences, earth sciences,
neural networks). There are a wealth of opportunities out there for
bioscientists concerned with information organization/access/management of
biological data -- design of information systems, etc. If you don't believe
me just catch the threads on bio-info. [I was interested in the thread on
women vs computers -- half of our information systems faculty here in CIS are
women and the proportion has been higher.]  If you have strong social or
historical concerns, there are also programs in Science, Technology & Society
that would welcome a knowledgeable scientist.

I'm not trying to put down the PhD in biology -- just showing that there are
ways of combining the interests that brought you _into_ the field with some
that you might not have thought of.

Kate McCain                            "bibliometrics R us"
Associate Professor
College of Information Studies
Drexel University



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