The Scientist’s Journey: That Was Then and This Is Now
William G. Franzin, Paul M. Cooley, and Patrick A. Nelson
Successful scientists pursue ideas, both good and bad. They critically review associated historic data and theory and integrate them to formulate testable hypotheses. Becoming a scientist requires intensive study leading to a graduate degree, a unique and existential process both within formal educational institutions and, by virtue of graduate work experience, in the real world. It is a process through which we strive for a high degree of ethical behavior, scientific rigor, and objectivity with, as its reward, the highest principle in education, academic freedom. A flourishing mentoring environment is a critical component of a graduate education and crucial for both mentors and students. Mentoring enriches both students and mentors, as together they realize opportunity.
Life is about opportunity. They often occur in unlikely places or circumstances. To be successful in life, one must learn to recognize and take advantage of promising opportunities whenever possible. A successful mentor–student relationship is the mutual realization of opportunities through the process of self-examination and growth. Perhaps the single largest contribution that mentors make to students is the understanding that there are many gray areas in science, and in that respect, science is no different from life. The process of mentoring in science involves providing the formal evaluation structure, instilling the importance of a larger scientific community, and establishing the importance of historical context. These elements allow the student to not only recognize an opportunity, but also communicate intent and ultimately understand the perspective and scope of issues at hand.