thanks, "basic science" and small colleges

Heather Masonjones hmasonjo at
Mon Nov 18 08:43:38 EST 1996

[Sorry about the problems posting.  Hope this goes through this time.]

The new thread on this newsgroup couldn't have come at a better time for
me.  I just got the green light from my committee to start writing, and
should defend my thesis in the late spring.  Now I'm faced with trying
to decide what to do next.  I guess I'm in a good position in that I have
never been married to the idea of going into traditional academics.  I
love the teaching and have supported myself in grad school very happily
with my teaching assistantships, but I'm realistic that it may not be
possible to go straight into a post doc and then a teaching position.  

I'm in a slightly different position than Sarah in that I was at a
relatively small womens college for undergrad and then went straight from
there to a medium sized graduate school.  Although my path hasn't been
easy through grad school, I wouldn't trade the opportunities I've had in
such a small department.  From talking to people doing work at larger
schools, it seems that it is easy to get stuck working in one field in one
lab with very little collaboration because of the fierce competition that
exists in these larger institutions.  There is an amazing amount of
crosstalk between labs and disciplines at my school and because of this I
have been able to develop a highly interdisciplinary project.  The
foundation of my project is in the behavioral ecology of dwarf seahorses
(genus Hippocampus), but in the last two years I have done a great deal of
work on their reproductive physiology to determine the relative parental
investments of males and females.  I never could have done this project
without the support of my advisor and a number of other faculty from other
disciplines.  It's been a really interesting path to get to the end of
this thesis, and now I'm trying to decide whether to go larger with the
project (to a field study of their reproductive ecology and the
conservation of seahorses) or smaller (male reproductive physiology).  My
interest in this system is primarily in the evolution of seahorses, and
both levels of study may be important in tracing the evolutionary forces
that shaped this unique genus.  

I've decided to spend the next few months writing and applying for
postdocs and other jobs that will allow me to continue working on this
system.  If I don't find something in the next six months, though, I plan
to start looking outside of academics.  I've been told that it is possible
to go away from academics and come back after doing different, but
related jobs.  Given the current job market, this is probably a pipe
dream, but I'm hopeful.

Thanks for all of the recent activity on this NG.  It's nice to know I'm
not alone  :).

    ___/ *  \
   |____    |          Heather Masonjones
         \/ |          Biology Department
        _/  |          Tufts University
       /    /=\        Medford, MA
      (     |==|       ph 617-627-3807
      (     \=/        fx 617-627-3805
       \    |          hmasonjo at
       //\  |
       __ \ |
      // \| |
     | |__| |
      \__ _/

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