where is everyone\life after grad school...

Marion Boulden boulden at premier.net
Mon Nov 18 07:50:24 EST 1996

Being relatively new to Usenet, I've only just now discovered this NG.
The personal bios have been fascinating and thought provoking.  

As for myself, I am currently at the user-end of science.   I
coordinate post-oil spill natural resource damage assessments for the
Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator, in the Office of the Governor.  These
days I spend much more time encouraging natural resource trustees from
the state's three environmental departments and representatives of the
responsible parties to play nicely together and share data, etc.  It's
quite a bit more political and beaurocratic than anything I ever saw
myself doing.

In highschool, I volunteered at the local zoo and was lucky to find a
mentor there, a man who, besides being the herps curator, was working
to document Virginia's herpetological diversity.  My  life as a
biologist  began via herpetology, biometrics, population biology...
even though it was as a tag-along, probably pestering, kid.  He had
been to graduate school, and would shortly be returning to work on a
PhD, so of course I would do so as well.

I spent four years as a biology major at an extremely small (about 500
students) liberal arts/environmental college,   Even though my
exposure to a research environment was nill there, I think the quality
of teaching was superior, whether that is because the school was just
very lucky in recruiting a dedicated and passionate teaching staff, or
because the professors didn't have to spend time applying for grants,
fighting for laboratory space, sweating out tenure proceedings...
Even though it wasn't  a research school, because it enjoys generous
alumni support, the teaching laboratories were extremely well
equipped, and we routinely ran apparati in our biochemistry labs that
undergraduate  students at larger schools would only watch a TA run.

Through a correspondance that began with me seeking papers on insect
juvenile hormones for my biochemistry seminar, I decided to come to
Louisiana to study  physiology  with a professor at LSU.  I did a
masters thesis on regulation of carbohydrate storage and mobilization.
in honey bees.  I then began a series of very frustrating experiments
with bee midgut insulin-immunoreactive peptide.   After a year and a
half of that, and ABD (all-but-dissertation... my coursework
completed), I wasn't so sure that I was really cut out for the "pure
research" career.  If I knew then, what I know now, I'd have been a
lot better at finding  technical support that just wasn't available in
our lab, but I didn't, so I left graduate school feeling very

Luckily, my physiology background did come into play.  The Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries needed a project leader on the
biomonitoring project for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port.  After
seventeen years of using population-based factors to monitor for
petroleum hydrocarbon impacts, they wanted to lean more toward
sublethal effects of PAH's in individual organisms.   Two and a half
years later, with me just wrapping up a couple of pilot projects
involving using hepatic EROD in fringed flounder as an indicator of
PAH exposure, LDWF lost the contract to do the environmental
monitoring of the offshore oil port.

I had been planning a vacation to New Zealand for about a year at that
time, and I decided to go anyway.   I had no seniority, so if there
were to be layoffs, I would be one of the first to go.  I decided to
begin a job search upon my return from down under.  Before I left,
however, I was head-hunted for the job of Natural Resource Specialist
in the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, which is part of the
Office of the Governor.  The old NRS had left when the administration
changed, so they were in dire straits.  The oil spill liaison for our
Department mentioned my name, and it just so happened that the Deputy
Oil Spill Coordinator also remembered me from an oil spill response
and planning course the month before! (networking never hurts, even
when you think your current position is fairly secure!).

I resigned from LDWF before I left for New Zealand, and began the new
position the day after my return (nodding off several times in a
meeting on my first day...jet lag!).  Since this is a gubernatorial
appointment, it's only for 3.5 years (took them six months to find
me), but it's a networking gold mine, and I'm confident of finding a
good position if I'm not reappointed.  Also, I'm priviledged to play a
big role in writing the state's Natural Resource Damage Assessment
regulations for recovering damages/restoring natural resources after
oil spills.

Plans for the future?  Well, I may consider a position as NRDA
consultant  for  petroleum companies or other states, but ever since
my trip to New Zealand, I've seriously considered pursuing a high
school teaching position some where on the North Island.  I'm headed
back for six weeks in December-January, and might put a few feelers
out while I'm there...  I enjoyed teaching as a graduate assistant and
can't imagine a more beautiful place to live.

Marion Boulden				email: boulden at premier.net
Natural Resource Specialist
Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office
Office of the Governor of Louisiana

all the usual disclaimers... the opinions expressed are my own and not
necessarily those of my employer.

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