Societal impact, was Re: Money and self-esteem

Hilary Reno he-lee at
Fri Sep 19 17:50:44 EST 1997

I've found that the motivating factor in my life over the past few years
has indeed become what my work can do for people.  As an M.D./ Ph.D.
student getting my Ph.D. in entomology, I am often questioned as to the
connection of the two fields.  Once people are reminded of the role of
mosquitoes in public heath, it seems obvious to them, but in the mean time
I get the age old look of disbelief of "why are you doing that?"  This
seems to be a common look given to entomologists and no doubt to other
scientists in other fields.  Heck, it's a look we give each other.

My experience with women researchers is that they are indeed quick to draw
up lists of why their research is important to humanity.  But I see this
with male researchers as well.  I thought that this was a result of moves
by funding sources to fund more "beneficial" research.  I had a professor
that had to justify behavior ecology research on wasps with every grant. 
Is this a common part of grant writing these days?  Do people feel that
this is a factor no matter the funding source (NSF, NIH, USDA, private)? 
Do you worry it may be so in the future?

These days as I endure the rigors of med school, I've found that I
appreciate the basic research experiments I'm able to squeeze in...I know
it keeps my mind fresh from passive absorbance of facts.  But as others
have mentioned, it is sometimes a guilty pleasure.

Hilary Reno
he-lee at 

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