Thursday, February 25, 2010

March Scientiae: Continuity

Scientiae is back! This month, Amanda over at A Lady Scientist is hosting, and she asks us to write about:
Continuity. The word applies not only to Scientiae (we're on year 3!), but Science, too.
Well, if there is one thing that my professional life has lacked, it is continuity. I don't know if I am scared of it, or just get bored of it, but it seems that I'm changing my career path every few years.

In high school, I was big into music, and I was actually really good. I wanted to major in it in university...but I didn't. I went in to physics instead (eventually - I changed my major about 4 times in my first year).

After my physics degree, I changed courses slightly and did X-ray astronomy for my masters. This wasn't too much of a stretch, and I don't really remember what the learning curve was like. My guess is that there was more of a change simply going from undergraduate to graduate, as opposed to research topic.

For my PhD, I switched fields. Still within astronomy, but closer to home, I studied comets and asteroids in our Solar System. I remember distinctly sitting in group meetings not knowing what the hell people were talking about. Eventually I got caught up, and by the end of my degree I was quite comfortable talking shop with other planetary scientists.

Here I am again, switching fields in my post-doc --- this time in a more major way. Instead of space, I'm back on earth, studying earthquakes. I'm about a month in and I'm still really lost. Like really lost. Although, I do have my moments of clarity, and some things overlap (observation techniques, for example), so I'm not totally out to lunch.

So, the moral of the story is that I have no continuity in my professional life. It's be more like a series of discontinuities. If you plot my learning curve over time, it would look very similar to a saw blade.

Thankfully, I am getting some continuity/stability in my personal life. DH and I have been together for almost 4 years, and we are finally settling down. We're even in the midst of buying a house! So, maybe the continuity from this part of my life will balance out the discontinuity in my career?