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What do you find is the hardest part of any research in the STEM field?

I am very interested in researching marine science, but I have heard several different views of becoming a researcher. Some people say that it is slow and tedious, but others say that it is extremely gruesome and tiring. I would love some different perspectives on this! #researcher #marine-biology


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Jordan’s Answer

During my undergrad, I worked under a doctor and helped her with her research for two years and I will say that the things you've heard are definitely true. It can be tedious, the hours can be long and it can sometimes feel very repetitive. That being said, if you feel very passionate about what you're doing, it makes a big difference. I loved the field I was working in, so while the days in the lab and entering data weren't always exciting, being able to stand back and see trends and start to analyze the work you've done is extremely rewarding. I would say the data entry is not the hardest part though. The difficult part is finding the work that truly speaks to you. For a long time you will be working on other people's projects and it may or may not be paid. This is not to discourage you. Research work is incredibly valuable and often underappreciated. It requires patience and diligence. If it is something that truly speaks to you, I encourage you to find a doctor in your college that is currently working on research and ask if they are willing to take on a student researcher. Sometimes this will count toward credits, so check with your adviser!


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Evan’s Answer

Being involved in scientific research can be both very exciting, as well as tedious and slow. I have been working in biological and biotechnology research for the past 7 years. It has been a lot of fun to learn about how living systems work, however in terms of pursuing a career I found that it felt a lot more stable to be a software developer that works for scientists rather than a scientist myself. The reason for this is that the total amount of funding for scientific research has been going down over the past few decades, but the number of people interested in pursuing scientific research has gone up. So, there are many qualified candidates with PhDs applying to fewer and fewer jobs as professors at universities or scientists in private industry. This is not to say you shouldn't pursue biological research, it is a wonderful career, but it can be a challenging one in terms of being financially stable. In terms of setting some reasonable expectations, you would probably need to do a PhD, where you will be paid about $25k to $32k a year, for 5 to 6 years, then what is called a "post-doc" fellowship for anywhere from 1 to 4 years, making about $40k to $50k, before applying to full-time positions as a professional researcher in academia, with a governmental research institution (e.g. NOAA), or private industry. In order to find that full-time job, you may have to move somewhere far away or less desirable to others since the competition is stiff. As someone who chose a slightly different route, I would recommend thinking about other alternatives that allow you to be involved in research without necessarily being the lead investigator, e.g. doing bioinformatics where you use software and statistics to help researchers understand their data or grantwriting / fundraising so that you can help scientists communicate their findings and their needs to the general public.

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