• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Careers in natural field research: what degree to aim for?

  • Thread starter myrsky
  • Start date
  • #1
3
0

Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm not entirely sure that this question doesn't belong in the Earth sciences forum, so my apologies if I've goofed.

I'm trying to figure out what academic path to take in order to best be qualified to do field research out in the natural world as often as possible, and secondarily in as broad a scope of environments as possible. Basically, I'm looking to build the foundation for a career in which I can get paid to travel to interesting, beautiful places around the world, such as rainforests, tundra, deserts, polar regions, etc. And I do know that scientific research careers would involve more time spent in the lab dealing with the results than out in the field, and I think I can live with that.

There are two basic paths I'm considering, and the difference between them is a matter of specialization vs versatility.

The first path I'm thinking of would be along the lines of ecology or wildlife biology, and the second would be earth systems science (*). The first would presumably indicate a greater degree of competence in its specific field, while the second would (and please correct me if I am wrong about this) give me an excuse to be on a field research trip in virtually any environment in the world, given that it covers a certain amount of land, sea, sky and life knowledge.

So, I'd be very pleased to receive any advice people may have about this quandary.
(a) How do people get to work in field research?
(b) Specialty vs versatility for securing a career?
(c) Does ESS actually do what I think it does (grant sufficient competence in any environment to justify a field research career)?
(d) Can a research career be founded on a bachelor's or is a master's generally better for that?
(e) Anything I haven't thought of or silly mistakes I'm making here.

Thanks for your time.

(*)= Since earth system science doesn't seem to be universally represented across american colleges, I wanted to include a couple of links in case it wasn't clear what it is:
http://www.eas.cornell.edu/cals/eas/academics/sesrequirements.cfm" [Broken]
The SES major is intrinsically interdisciplinary, involving many branches of science and engineering. The SES program is unique in that it incorporates fundamentals of earth science with the emergence of a new and more complete approach, encompassing all components of the earth system—air, life, rock and water—to gain a new and more comprehensive understanding of the world as we know it.
http://www.ess.uci.edu/academic/bs" [Broken]
Scientific aspects of environmental problems
Prepares students for graduate studies or careers in science, research, or technical fields
Classes in earth system science, weather and climate, oceanography, hydrology, and ecology
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
3
0
Or even a suggestion for a better place to ask about this?
 
  • #3
400
17
Holy crap you are asking some of the exact same questions I have been asking and am still asking for a long time. I LLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEE NATURE!!!!! I really want to learn how the environment works, how everything is connected, how we can live in communion with nature!!!:LKJDF !

I like both the abiotic and the biotic aspects of it. I don't like restricting myself. I like learning how they all interact. And I think it would be great to travel to yeah so so.

Earth scientists will earn a lot of money in the coming century. If you are interested in earth science you will probably get a nice job. Conservation biologists and ecologists are also needed but it doesn't seem to me they are needed as much as Earth scientists.
a) They just get a science degree and make sure they do something in field research?
b) Both is good. I read somewhere especially in ecology that specialization is sought after. Since ecology and environmental science is such an interdisciplinary field it's hard to make progress in those fields themselves. It seems to me progress is better made by aligning themselves with the progess of more established disciplines like biology, chemistry, and physics.
c) I don't really understand this question. If you are asking if ESS will get you a job in field research then yes I am pretty sure it does. Though you probably have to be a Phd or something to do most serious research.
d) don't really know. I'm only a junior in college. But from what I hear a B.S. will get you very little research jobs. You will mostly be working as an aide. To do more serious research one needs to go to Graduate School.
e) It's nice to love nature but remember science is about figuring out how things actually work. THis is something I'm trying to work with.

My plans are to major in biochemistry and study math and physics on the side. I'm trying to draw on all of the hard sciences but especially the physical sciences. I am hoping to eventually do something in ecosystem ecology because I think that looks at the biggest picture for the environment and considers both biotic and abiotic factors. Ideally travelling would be nice as well and seeing some of the great wonders in the natural world.
 
  • #4
3
0
Thanks, Delong.
 
  • #5
400
17
np! i'm finding stuff out too. Hope it helped.
 

Related Threads on Careers in natural field research: what degree to aim for?

Replies
14
Views
933
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
920
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
4K
Top