Seeing Further on the High Plains

Boulder Flatirons. Image courtesy of

Boulder Flatirons. Image courtesy of

Every time I visit my native Colorado from my current home in Syracuse
I am amazed at how far you can see across the landscape. Something
about being in a deeply familiar location, or perhaps the vastness of
the plains itself invariably ushers along a life recalibration.
Getting reacquainted with the physical aspects of Colorado is one
small piece of relocating what matters in my life.

This trip home niggled at my future plans as we visited my husband’s
family for a graduation celebration. My husband’s little brother
received his bachelors degree from our alma mattar, Colorado State
University. Returning to our undergraduate home reminds me of the
various career paths I’ve explored since graduation. I’ve designed
theatrical costumes, worked in the oil and gas industry, and
researched my beloved biology.

As I approach another graduation of my own I wonder what turns my
scientific career will take. I am inherently curious about animal
behavior and evolution. I am enamored with research on sexual
selection, or mate choice and competition. I love to write. These
passions could lead to a career running my own research lab in
academia. Science communication also requires writing, an enthusiasm
for your subject matter, and possessing background scientific
knowledge would strengthen work that I might produce. The same skills
could alternately be molded into a career in industry, or
conservation, or policy. Although our grad school training tends to
skew towards preparing us for tenure track careers, a colleague once
pointed out that according to the numbers, a tenured professorship is
the real alternative career for today’s biologist.

The high plains of the Rocky Mountain front range is once again a
fitting backdrop for exploring current plans. As I gaze across the
expanse my thoughts about career paths scurry like prairie dogs across
the fields of possibility. The Rockies loom large on the Western
horizon, offering distinct peaks – all difficult to reach, but also
all promising unique vistas. Which peak, or peaks, shall be mine to
climb matters less when multitudinous possibilities are so clearly


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