Flowers for Earth Day

Just thought I’d share my latest photo effort, and wish you all a Happy Earth Day.

I guess the last time I actually *did* anything for Earth day was back in elementary school, when we planted a tree in the school yard, complete with cheesy shovel ceremony and way too much excitement for a hoard of second graders on vast quantities of sugar.  It was almost as cool as the cow eye dissection we did earlier that year.  Oh, the things you get to do when you live in the midst of what is effectively the agricultural center of California…

Today, I’m stuck in my windowless office, as usual, trying to find out if transitioning into climate change research is a possibility. It seems like I could pull it off if I tried.  Data is data, right?

Plus, it could give me some more options after my postdoc here.  We’re looking to head over to Europe (or maybe even Australia, if there are jobs) in the next year or so, and places with nuclear physics programs aren’t exactly plentiful. That and I have this nagging feeling that I really would like to get involved in research that I could see having a direct impact somehow, somewhere.  This is hard to say about my field at the moment, unless I go applied.  Don’t get me wrong: what I’ve learned is relevant. Just not necessarily in the way I want it to be.  Maybe I just need a change in perspective. Maybe it has something to do with my suspicion that my research interests would lie elsewhere, if I were to start over again.  It’s the people, more than the work, that have kept me here.

But I guess I have a year to explore some of these questions, and figure out where to go next…


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4 responses to “Flowers for Earth Day

  1. Beautiful photo!

    Happy Earth Day, too.

    I know what you mean… I wonder that so often… is there a way I could do something that would actually help people? I’d like to think that biomed research will do something, but the honest truth is that any benefit of my research is incredibly far removed from the research I do. we all want to have a positive impact on the world, but sometimes the direction just isn’t obvious.

    It’s also kind of funny to think about how randomly people end up in their careers. In my case, it was a chance decision to work with a prof as an undergrad… and suddenly that became my research area. If I were to do it all over again, I can’t imagine what I would pick

  2. liz

    Thanks, Rachael!

    I think we’re not the only ones. (Because phd comics are scarily right on most of the time, right?).

    There was a quote from Steve Girvin (a physicist / deputy provost of some sort) that I read yesterday that said something like 99% of science is a waste of time, 1% changes the world, and it’s impossible to know what research will make up that 1%. I guess that’s pretty true… It can be sort of frustrating, though, to be working away at something and not see why you’re doing what you’re doing. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’d be the same if I were to go into climate science, but I guess the stakes seem higher.

    You know, I have a similar story … I ended up where I am because I started working with someone here as an undergrad. I picked it because they let undergrads do actual work — not because I was particularly interested in the field. I guess that’s not so uncommon. It’ll be interesting to see where we all end up in 10 years time, no?

  3. There was a really interesting talk at the April APS meeting last year on climate change research. I found it particularly interesting because somehow I hadn’t really thought about it being a branch of Physics – but it makes perfect sense that it would be considering there is a lot of hydrodynamics involved and a lot of radiation absorption/reflection/etc considerations based on the gas composition of the atmosphere (see! tie-ins to nuclear physics!).

    I have a friend who, having just finished a post-doc in astronomy is going to be switching to medical physics imaging, and while she will be doing another post-doc and taking a few courses she doesn’t have to go back to being a full time student.

    I learned a lot of nuclear physics in grad school, but think I learned more about problem solving and finding obscure information in literature than just about anything else and that is extremely transferable.

    In other word, if you want to, I say go for it.

  4. liz

    Hi Jenn,

    Good to know… I guess I’m still exploring (I’ve been looking at medical physics, too). It’s funny the things you don’t realize you could transition to. But you’re right — we all have the problem solving skills (and usually the ability to self-teach — there’s no way to get through grad school without it) to try all sorts of things. It’s just a bit harder than keeping on the path you’ve already set out for yourself, I suppose. I guess I’ll have to see what’s out there…

    Hope the writing is going well, speaking of which …

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