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What is Success

Patricia Foster pfoster at bu.edu
Fri Jan 28 19:49:01 EST 1994

Cindy Hale (chale at sage.nrri.umn.edu) wrote:
: While I may agree with her that if you define succeeding in science as 
: walking with the big names then yes, a degree from Harvard would help you 
: along. 

   My point about Harvard was not that being associated with 
big names is success (which it isn't), although it is certainly
advantageous.  My point was that if you want to be excellent in
your trade, it is well to learn it from those who already are.
And at that moment in history, some of the best scientists in 
the world were in the Biolabs at Harvard.

: The world is a big place and science is a big place and success should be 
: measured by your own sense of balance, ability ot contribute and right 
: and wrong.

  We are surely free to have different opinions about what constitutes
success, and I am not so foolish to equate it with happiness.  But, 
the very minimum requirement for success in science is to be able to
continue to do it.  This requires a job, a grant, a fellowship, or an
independent source of wealth.  If you think you obtain such things
from your own sense of well-being, you are sadly mistaken.  You will
be judged by your superiors and peers all the days of your life!
Not to mention the US Congress.
  Science is *not* a big place -- it is a very small place and getting
smaller, and more competitive, every day.

Patricia L. Foster
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA USA
pfoster at bu.edu

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