Re:Hello again, it’s been a while! (Pete come here

Pete Giwojna

Dear Greg:

Paul Anderson of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida has some excellent advice for anyone planning a career in marine biology and I would like to pass along to you for your consideration. Here’s his message, sir:

Hi Pete,

I wanted to put my 2 cents in regarding your eager young learner interested in pursuing marine biology. He is thinking in the way that many young eager students think; picking his favorite animals first. I approached my graduate career in much the same way (picking the animal first and then developing the scientific questions to pursue). However, graduate students soon learn that in a research program, you train yourself in a particular type of science that you then apply to a model animal that is best suited to help you answer the scientific question(s) you have. Though it’s hard for young students to think that way, it really makes more sense for somebody to pursue an area of interest (a type of science: e.g., physiology, behavior, fish health, ecology, etc.), develop a scientific question, and then pick an animal that is well-suited to answer that question.

Also, in graduate school, the professor with whom you choose to collaborate is much more important than the school you choose to attend. Your student should take time reading scientific papers of interest in the library, learning who the authors of his favorite papers are, and finding author profiles on school websites to learn more about them. He should then establish communication with the people he wants to work with and start asking questions of those professors in particular about whether or not they’d be interested in taking him on. In grad school going through the application process of getting into the school is largely a formality; the important part of it is establishing a working relationship with someone who he would want to serve as his mentor. It’s an apprenticeship in science.

Hope this information helps, and I look forward to your response!

Thanks very much!
Paul Anderson
Ph.D. Candidate/Alumni Fellow
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
University of Florida

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