Curiosity Comes Naturally, but Three Other C’s Must Be Learned—the Earlier the Better
Steven G. Pueppke
A career in water might seem an unlikely choice for a farm kid from arid North Dakota, but I knew about food production and was determined to become a scientist. Like many of my generation, I was drawn to the concept of research solutions that might actually benefit humanity. And so, I would devote my life to erasing hunger with food harvested from the seas. Such were my convictions in 1971, when I was as sure of my future as any college senior can be. But, it would prove too good to be true.
When contemplating graduate school, I hedged my bets, applying to further my education not just in marine biology, but in two other disciplines that I found interesting. The graduate oceanographers invited me to join them, as did the botanists, but my application to the environmental science faculty at Cornell University was rejected. And so they sent it to the Department of Plant Pathology, which I had hastily scribbled onto the application form as my second choice. Soon my mailbox contained a letter asking if I was serious about this unknown discipline. Cornell had offered US$3,200 a year—real money in those days—and so I accepted their research assistantship and renounced my aspirations for a watery career.