As the subject line says... I got my BS in zoology in 1965. Spent two years
in a terminal MS program (always HAVE been an underachiever!) in the same
department and, when my spouse got his first job (ABD) followed him upstate.
Got my MS (marine biology) at his second teaching job (with a supportive
female advisor in a program without a PhD option), but still didn't have the
gumption for the PhD. Turned out that I was a 19th century biologist in
a 20th century world. Bench work was supremely unattractive and I still
hadn't found the area that gave me the intellectual excitement and energy
I needed. Finally (two academic spousal moves later) I almost literally
fell into what I really love -- bibliometrics -- using the data extracted
from computer-based analyses of scientific literatures to study the
intellectual structure of the field, identify core journals, shifts in
research schema over time, etc. I am doing natural history of science!!
I got my MS at 28 and my PhD at 41. I am now a tenured associate professor and
will be 50 next month. I figure that I have at least 15 more years of fun
and fighting with deans and provosts before I decide to retire--and both
of us (still married to the same person!!) can spend out time birdwatching
and collecting covered bridges and hanging out on whatever succeeds the
I don't know that I would have ever made it in biology. I had absolutely no
idea that information science/quantitative history of science existed when
I was in school the first two times. I guess the moral of this is, you may
not know what you want to do when you grow up -- and you may not have to
decide as soon as you think. Build your skills and knowledge base (I work
primarily but not exclusively in those areas of biology that I learned as
a BS and MS student) and keep an eye out for opportunities--there are
wonderful things out there to do that are science/biology related that
may not have struck you yet.
Kate McCain "bibliometrics R us"
College of Information Studies
mccainkw at duvm.ocs.drexel.edu