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The 7 ages of The Scientist

Another re-post from another blog Why Evolution is True, named after his book. This time from Jerry A. Coyne, who you might know as one of the two authors (H. Allen Orr being the other; Allen Orr was a recent speaker (talk 1 and talk 2) in the Storer Lecture Series) of the book Speciation.

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At the beginning of my talk the other day, I showed a slide that I’ve often used throughout my career: the “seven ages of the scientist”: that is, the various activities we engage in as our career progresses from our Ph.D. to our dotage. I usually put an arrow next to the stage I’m at when I give the talk (I’m currently at stage 7).

I’m often asked for copies of that slide (in fact, a commenter requested one here), so I reproduce the latest version of the text.  Steal it and alter it if you want!

This melancholy career path is drawn, of course, from Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” speech spoken by Jaques in As You Like It (if you haven’t read it, click the link: it’s wonderful).

The Seven Ages of the Scientist

  1. As student, listens to advisor give talk on student’s own work
  2. As postdoc, gives talks about his/her own work
  3. As professor, gives talks about his/her students’ work
  4. Talks and writes about “the state of the field”
  5. Talks and writes about “the state of the field” eccentrically and incorrectly—always in a self-aggrandizing way.
  6. Gives after-dinner speeches and writes about society and the history of the field
  7. Writes articles about science and religion

Right before my talk, my friend David Hillis (a systematist) noted that there should be a stage 8: “blogs about science and religion.” But of course that doesn’t apply to me since I do not “blog.”

Link to original blog post.

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