I first became interested in science through a love of animals. The first career I ever aspired to was James Herriot’s, followed by David Attenborough’s.
This seems to be a common career path for many biological scientists; I’ve met several other people who’ve made their way down the chain from large interesting mammals to tiny interesting genes. (I suppose quantum physicists are the people who took that journey to its logical conclusion, although I suspect that they may have started with rocket ships and black holes rather than dolphins and whales).
As much as I’ve enjoyed my career to date, I’m still envious of people who’ve followed that childhood dream of field zoology. Especially primatologists. The closest I’ve ever got was analysis of primate gene promoter sequences.
Luckily, the blogosphere contains a cornucopia of delights for the ape fan. Last year I became engrossed in a blog called Bonobo Handshake, which followed Vanessa Woods’ field work with Congo’s bonobos and chimpanzees. Great stuff, and I think I had actual withdrawal symptoms when she returned to Germany and stopped providing updates.
Fortunately I just discovered the Harvard Chimp and Bonobo Blog, Living Links and Primate Infonet, so I can still get my fix until Vanessa gets going again. What I really need though is an orangutan blog – those guys are my favourites.
Are there any other frustrated field zoologists out there? Or is there some other early career dream that you didn’t follow? Do you too read blogs written by the people who were brave enough to go out there and just do it?
Do field zoologists sit around their campfires at night and wish they were analysing gene sequences instead?