As far back as I can remember, I have always had questions about nature. Why do some birds only live in certain places or why can I find seashells in my backyard even though I don’t live near the ocean? Although from a very early age I knew I wanted to study science, I had a very hard time identifying myself as a scientist. I had this stereotypically ingrained image of a scientist: single, male PhD who was socially awkward and worked in a laboratory. It has taken me a very LONG time to overcome this stereotype, even after the event that catapulted me to “scientist” status.
During my PhD studies, I attended a statistical workshop. After dinner I was talking with a very famous scientist whom I really admire. I had read all of his papers and was so excited to finally meet him. He asked me what I worked on and I told him marine fish, etc. … and named a few of the species I had researched and their project descriptions. After I finished answering his question, he asked me about a specific project I had worked on during my master’s thesis. He said, “Have you published your work? I just read a study by ‘Ramon et al.’ on this same topic.” As he finished his sentence, he realized that I was the “Ramon et al.” and went on to praise my study! This was the moment I finally felt like I might be a “real” scientist. I had published a paper that someone had read, and I was presenting at national meetings. But it wasn’t until I received my PhD that, when asked what I did for a living, I could proudly respond “research scientist.”
A SACNISTA since 2005, Dr. Marina Ramon is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California. Her primary interest is the molecular evolution, speciation, and local adaptation of marine fish.
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