RE: NANFA-- reply from non-list member

Crail, Todd (
Thu, 21 Feb 2002 11:26:58 -0500

I've experienced the flip side, and that's an entire bio-program that
seems to think you'd melt if you got wet. By the time I was done, I was
very prepared to be a lab-monkey (Hey look at me I can pipette! And it
only took $30k and 4 years to learn how!) and had only 4 *course
generated* trips into the great outdoors. My *one* astronomy course had
us outside *during* class time than was generated by the entire course
load of 'biology major'. And of course, my professors wondered why I
was an 'unmotivated student'. Looking back, *I should* have transfered
and not become apathetic, cantankerous, and generally whiney... but
that's all 20/20 now ;)

When I sat down my Senior year to do my resume, I literally had to write
it to focus on lab work. It was too embarrasing to even try and apply
for any type of naturalist position or anything I might remotely enjoy.
So, I started writing software (I'm a web-monkey instead :)... What a
twist huh?

I still believe the defining moment was when I went to my Animal
Behavior class, looked out the window, decided it was too nice a day to
hear *another* lecture and explained to the professor that I was going
to go do some field work observing L. macrochirus sneaker males in
action! He was amused and didn't protest, but let's just say the essays
on my next test were met with a much more interrogative eye ;)


~ Give a man to fish, he'll eat for a day...
Teach a man to fish....
good luck getting him off the water. ~

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Bessert

Bruce -

On Liz's list, I would fall under category I. How frustrated you must
been with the student you describe. One would assume that a person with
degree in plant ecology ought to be able to i.d. plants! It bugs me to
end when I'm around undergrad (and grad, unfortunately) bio majors that
such a narrow, lab-oriented focus that they know nothing about natural
systems - the kind of people that believe they would melt if rained on.
Unfortunately, I'm finding that it is more advantageous to make oneself
sound like a "Liz - category 2" person when it comes to acquiring grant
money. Natural history is not as "sexy" as, for example, gene
mechanisms - at least in the eyes of funding sources I've submitted to.
While I think studying natural history on any level is exciting (or at
interesting), many others in high places think such pursuits are rather

- Mike Bessert
Lincoln, NE

on 2/20/02 6:33 PM, Bruce Stallsmith at wrote:

> Liz is absolutely on the money, which is a sad fact. I have a graduate
> student who works for me as a laboratory teaching assistant in our
> biology labs. She came to us with a B.S. in plant ecology from U.Cal.
> Francisco, a good school, but was totally unable to use a microscope
> literally!). Her plant ID skills were poor... What the hey? This was
all the
> result of NO FIELDWORK. And this is certainly the trend of late.
> --Bruce Stallsmith
> Huntsville, AL, US of A

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