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USU alum Alicja Copik

Scott Woodhouse '95, Guest Columnist

Courtesy Scott Woodhouse

Bullish on Science

Alumni of USU's College of Science share insights and perspectives

There has never been a better time to obtain a science education. This may seem contrary to conventional wisdom, as recent studies allege low pay of science Ph.D. recipients1 and other studies contend older researchers are taking an increasing amount of research grant money from younger researchers.2 However, these studies fail to realize the countless new opportunities and benefits emerging in science.

More than at any time, the world is in a knowledge economy, and the need for logic-driven, analytical scientific talent in this economy is fierce. Although about 80 percent of science graduate students say they are likely to pursue an academic science career, only about 23 percent do. These students are being lured away by enticing opportunities outside the lab, where they can apply their scientific training. Today’s scientists are becoming financial analysts, product managers, businessmen, science writers, lawyers, policy makers and management consultants, in addition to researchers. High growth industries in material science, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine and information technology require scientific skills for all their decisionmakers and product developers. These new opportunities provide rewarding careers for the scientifically trained.

I am a product of an Aggie science education. From my first experience in biology lab with Dr. Bill Brindley to my senior chemistry thesis with Dr. Lance Seefeldt, my science education opened doors for me in law, with entrepreneurs, and with businesses. I am certainly not alone in experiencing successes and new opportunities due to my Aggie education.

I am bullish on the need for scientific skills in the future. This is not a time for pessimism. There has never been a better time to obtain a science education, and I am proud of the steps Utah State is taking to educate the next generation of scientists.

1 N. Zolas, et al., “Wrapping it up in a person: Examining employment and earnings outcomes for Ph.D. recipients,” Science 350:1367-1371 (2015).
2M. Levitt and J. Levitt, “Future of fundamental discovery in US biomedical research,” PNAS 114 (25):6498-6503 (2017).

-- Scott Woodhouse