Dec 202011

As a scientist, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. When I started working with fruit flies, my advisor and I thought it’d take 6-8 months to complete (it ended up taking almost 18 months of work spread out over 4 years). When I began my Master’s, I expected to finish in 2 years,  yet 11 semesters later I proudly defended. Throughout my academic career, it’s been proven time and again that nothing comes easily, and speed bumps lurk beneath the surface waiting to slow your research down. So although I was crushed and extremely disappointed yesterday, a part of me wasn’t surprised to learn my Ph.D. NSERC proposal was not selected by the university for further consideration.

There’s nothing that compares to reading that rejection letter, informing you again that you were oh so close, but please try again next year. This isn’t my first experience with the email-of-academic-death, but its repeated blows don’t soften the pain. It can be easy to blame yourself (“If I’d only gotten one more manuscript submitted…”), others (“They don’t appreciate the work we do as taxonomists…”) or even the system (“Interdepartmental politics sidelined my chances from the start…”), but it’s important to not  give in to feelings of inadequacy or contempt imposed on you by awards committees.

No, I choose to funnel my frustration into proving those awards committees wrong, that they missed their opportunity to contribute to my rising academic star. I know I’m a damn good scientist and a damn good taxonomist, with ideas that will force others to take notice, a work ethic to out-compete my peers, and, most importantly, the drive to become a leader in my field. While the perks which come with NSERC scholarship make life & research easier, I have excelled without them by substituting harder work for financial freedom, and am now better prepared to face all trials I am confronted with. If the awards committee of today fails to see that, it’s their loss, not mine; I’ll find a way, and give my acknowledgement to someone else.

And when I return with Ph.D. in hand and apply to join their ranks as faculty, I know they’ll see a stronger researcher; one who has dealt with adversity; one who has done what was necessary to surpass his goals; and one who has the ability to lead where others follow. I have friends and colleagues who challenge, inspire and drive me, a wife who supports and comforts me, and an ego that won’t lay down and die.

So look out dammit, because I don’t just want to be an entomologist. I will be an entomologist.

  16 Responses to “Tuesday Tunes – Entomologist – Heather Wilson”

Comments (12) Trackbacks (4)
  1. Great attitude – I dare say you already are an entomologist.

    Killer vid!

  2. Ted is right. You don’t need a degree to be a kickass entomologist. It is about the work you have done, not the titles you have been awarded with.

  3. This is such a damn good attitude. I really appreciate what you do here, and know you are a damn good taxonomist.

  4. We are so proud of your accomplishments, and reading this, even more so of your positive attitude and conviction to succeed. We support you 1,000 % and are here to support you on every step of your journey towards your dream!

    Mom and Dad

  5. FUCKIN’ EH!

  6. What a great attitude, Morgan! This is very uplifting, and encourages me to keep on truckin’.

  7. Well said my friend, keep up the great work you are doing!

  8. Certainly you can become a professional biologist with that approach. Every step involved in “making it” as a scientist is designed to filter out all the people who are in it for the money, fame, kudos etc. The few that do succeed are those that have exactly the attitude that you have in this post – those that just love studying the organisms for what they are and who get up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about them. Ten rejections by journals and grant committees is a minor inconvenience as long as the eleventh is successful – hell, what you really get out of it is the thrill of finding stuff out. I earn about a tenth of my college peers but I am perfectly happy with that as long as I can continue studying bugs.

    Having said that, a recipe for success: never invest significant time and energy into anything that you can’t publish later – and always, always say “yes” to collaborations. Good luck!

  9. I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of anyone! Kick ass and take names, my dear nephew! With your can-do attitude, the sky is the limit!

  10. That’s an awesome response to the NSERC kick in the teeth. You’re going to do just fine. :-)

  11. Thanks for the advice and support everyone! I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of the adventure with you all moving forward!

  12. Good attitude Morgan. Often these decisions are made by people who don’t know much about real research needs, find little value in work outside their limited expertise, and, in any case, tend towards the tunnel vision imposed by status-seeking, bias, and politics. Well, may be a career spent trying to convince invisible and anonymous cretins that the study of the Acari are worth a few research dollars has made me a mite cynical, but it often seems as if the powers-that-be tend towards the clueless. One of your jobs as a scientist is to shed light on ignorance, so good luck with the next round (and do go that one paper more route – the more clueless the reviewer, the more they are impressed with numbers).

 Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>