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Physics Career path in combining physics and psychology

  1. Dec 1, 2011 #1
    I am a 2nd year undergraduate student BSc (Hons) Physics at QMUL and simultaneously I am undertaking a BSc (Hons) in psychology with the Open University. I intend to proceed with an MSc and a PhD before I head out for a career. It's been a few months that I have started researching possible future career paths I might like to follow, which would combine these disciplines. Even though I have pulled all of my resources together and been in contact with dozens of people (academics, career advisors, people working in industy and social services) it is really hard to find something that pleases me. Possible options I have come across are Science Communication, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science and Psychophysics. None of this sounds really good as an idea.
    To begin with, let me list the criteria I would prioritise concerning what I expect or seek from my career and you let me know if you have any ideas about in wihch fields I might meet those or if such positions exist at all.
    -the ability for personal development
    -the ability to keep in touch with current literature of the field and perhaps attend conferences and social meetings of the community to keep up to date
    -the ability to contribute to the literature and contribute in pushing the boundaries of science/knowledge
    -the ability to not work in a strict routine nor a 9-5 job
    -the ability to conduct research either practical or theoretical
    Also money is not amongst my major concerns but after spending 10 years of your life studying at such an intense rate and after joining a scientific community at the forehead of scientific development and innovation I expect that such hard work has to be reflected on my salary. (an academic salary for example I consider it to be adequate)
    In my attempt to find something relevant let me give you some typical examples I have used over the past few months, in explaining to other people what exactly I might be interested in.
    a) Conducting research on the maximisation of efficiency of human personnel in a research centre / facility or academic environment.
    b) Conudcting personality related research about academics in scientific disciplines.
    c) Acting as a liason in interdisciplinary researches and taking care of pulling both parties resources together, in order to achieve maximum performance.
    These are just some examples of things I consider really interesting and I would like to get myself involved in. As you can see there are traces of Human Resources Management and Psychology amongst those, which would have to be backed up by a knowledge in Physics if I intend to work with physicists or scientists in general. (I consider physics to be the most general science I could pick to study, given that I wanted to keep up with all sciences and I will readily take any criticism on that :P)
    Philosophy of Science sounds also appealing to me as far as I have seen by reading through some published papers and books because it involves a lot of theory of knowledge.

    That's pretty much what I can come up with at the moment. So if you have got yourself into the trouble of reading all the way up to here and have any ideas or anything that could possibly be of use to me or contribute to the discussion please go ahead and share it and we'll see where this might get us.
    Many thanks!
    Achilleas Athanasiou Fragkoulis
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2011 #2


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    Sounds to me like you want to be a Dean of Science.

    If it helps, most of the time people don't start by laying out a set of specific criteria and finding a career that fits them. Usually, people pursue the opportunities available at the time and try to steer towards their desires. (Some people actually steer away from what they desire most, but that's another topic altogether.)

    Something you may be interested in is becoming an efficiency consultant.
  4. Dec 1, 2011 #3
    I will have a look at what you suggested and thanks for the information. A dean of science here in the UK pretty much translates as the Head of the Department. I had a talk about all these with the head of my physics department and all he is doing is pretty much the same as whatever any other academic in physics does, he is involved in a project in M theory and just has occasional meetings with the rest of the staff and he has to attend all sort of events and do the PR. So its just another academic position with just a bit more responsibility. I will certainly have to go along with whatever options I will have available at the time that I am required to chose, but at the moment I am interested in which way I should push my studies forward, which in itself will shape my future options. So given that I do push it down a track that fits my mentality, chances are that I will have more options that are fitting. That is my train of thought behind laying down criteria.
    Thanks again for the timely reply. (Off to look up efficiency consultancy :) )

    Edit: Typo
  5. Dec 2, 2011 #4
    You might want to look into neurological biophysics. If you were to approach most of your research via trying to answer questions posed in the psychology world, that might keep you involved enough in psychology to make you happy since you'd have to keep very active in those academic circles.

    It may be not what you want either since getting into a field like that will probably involve learning more biochemistry and computer programming than you might want (or have time in your schedule for since you're already doing the double physics/psychology thing), but who knows.

    There's loads of cool research to be had in this area if you get into stochastic modeling ... it's a great field to be in now that computer technology has gotten to the point where we can more easily look at physical biochemistry from a math/physics perspective. That's why I said it might be decent for you to look into, especially if you stayed on the neuro-end of the psychology world ... you could easily use stochastic biochemical modeling to do neuro-psych research.

    edit: just as a caveat, I am not, nor have I ever been involved with the psychology community in any way ... I took two psych classes about 8 years ago (intro to psychology and biopsychology) ... so I'm kindof speculating that there could be crossover here, I mean it makes sense to me that you could develop biophysics research programs based on furthering whatever is going on in the psychology world (although I have no clue what any of that stuff is).
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  6. Dec 3, 2011 #5
    I did a final year UG project on "personality related research about academics in scientific disciplines" - to be specific, academics in the physics department. The key work I used as the basis for my project was "Subjective Side of Science: Philosophical Inquiry into the Psychology of the Apollo Moon Scientists" by Ian I. Mitroff, which I would highly recommend.
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