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Combining Science interests into a Feasible Career

  1. Jun 10, 2009 #1
    I am trying to see if there are any good careers that include:
    1.) Physics Research
    2.) Biology Research
    3.) Chemistry
    4.) Laboratory work
    5.) Not being constrained by corporate interests

    I want to work somewhere where, even if our research does have a purpose that could be adapted commerically, we are researching for the sake of finding out things. I do not want to work for a company.

    I would be okay with working for the government, as I study Constitutional Law and Political theory as well and know how to handle working with them.

    Right now, I am in the 11th Grade, but feel that I need to figure this out as soon as possible. I do not like entering a situation without multiple working plans.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2009 #2
    I think if you find this place, a lot of people who like to know where it is.
  4. Jun 10, 2009 #3
    Working for the government in a governmental lab wasn't as bad as you make it out to be. When I worked for the Air Force Research Labs (which was even a military lab!), I made sure that I was in a division where all our work was publishable. In my case, I worked on laser sources for imaging that were in an "eye-safe" region of the spectrum, so that we could better image our own troops (and suspected enemy troops or targets) without blinding people (imaging resolution relates to wavelength... so light waves, even those in the IR, would make a better are better than traditional radar waves).

    While my research was more applied (although less so than other divisions, who actually took our sources and made them into systems), there are certainly other options:
    1) With regards to some "applied" research labs, working for a lab that focused on environmental/energy issues would also be fulfilling, without too much worry of your results going to military use.
    2) Then there are select government labs out there that concentrate more on basic research (usually these are even not governmental labs, but labs that are built via the funds of several governments).

    I don't think studying constitutional law or political theory will really help you "handle" working for these government labs... generally these labs are great environments in which to work once you learn how to handle any "red tape" issues. Knowing an extra language or two might be more useful.

    Good luck, and also know that you'll get better ideas as you get more involved with your studies.
  5. Jun 10, 2009 #4


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    Education Advisor

    Have you thought about medical physics?

    Physics research: check. Likely you won't be doing anything too fundamental. The physics is very applied, but the problems you work on can be very interesting and challenging.

    Biology research: check. Medical physics research translates directly into medicine. On the biological side of things you can branch into radiobiology, health physics, modelling, and clinical trials as examples.

    Chemistry: check. As much or as little as you want.

    Laboratory work: check. Most medical physicists split time between clinical responsibilities and research, but there can be a significant amount of laboratory time involved if you want it.

    Not being constrained by corporate interests: check. While your work can (and often does) have commercial applications, most of the research is academic or clinical in nature, which means that you're working for the benefit of patients.

    You have lots of time before you have to make a decision, but considering what you've listed, medical physics might be a career worth investigating.
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