Becka (miss_rynn) wrote,
Becka
miss_rynn

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Career geekery

So let me tell you about microbiology - it's basically a dead science, much like phrenology. Most of what people call microbiology today involved genetically modifying bacteria for pharmacueticals or vaccine development, which are infact molecular biology and immunology respectively. Just for reference, I despise mol biol and I failed immunol.

The main problem at hand is that there is little to no money to be made from growing or identifying bacteria (be they novel species or well known ones) - there is no commertial market (with a few notable exceptions, like the recently discovered alkalai favouring bugs used for dye manufacturing) for finding out more information about bacteria. But develope a new antibiotic or vaccine or treatment for acne, and you make squillions of dollars.

Like many aspects of my life, my interest lies in an archaic and dare I say outdated subject which no one has the time nor the money to deal with.

Careers in microbiology are few and far between. If you really, really want to excell in the field, break new ground and aid mainkind and all that, you really need to be in one of two career paths; a) a CDC-like job (Centers for Disease Control), or b) in the millitary working on anti-biological warfare agents.

I'd love to work for the CDC - very few microbiologists wouldn't. It's a sexy job. The downside, as far as I'm concerned, is that there is most likely a move to the US involved. And yes, I know there is a Bio Level 3/4 lab somewhere in Victoria, but do I really look like I want to work for CSL or CSIRO or who ever runs it? I know CSL is the devil from personal experience, and I've heard awful things about CSIRO.

Which leaves the millitary. While I feel most passionately about the development of technologies and agents to counter-biological weapons (I think that biological warefare is one of the most atrocious things ever concieved), and I would dearly love to be involved in such research, I am not naive enough to believe that ANY government would only be involved in counter-agents. That's about as likely as me waking up tomorrow to realise that I am an enormous Jamacian man. I couldn't take the risk of knowning that whatever research I might do would be used to develope the very thing I am fighting so hard to protect mankind from.

However... we are soon to get into the lab a new FACS/Cell Sorter which can not only do live/dead staining of bacterial cells, but it can ALSO do species identification. And the model that we are to be getting is so robust and reliable that - this is the part I want you to pay attention to - the US Army currently uses it on the back of humvees as they drive arouns in Iraq, on the look out for air-borne bioweapon agents.

Which means at the end of my PhD, when I will be desperately looking for microbiology work, I will be both qualified and trained to use a piece of equipment that is already used in the field of anti-bio weapons.

I am just hoping and praying that I am as idealistic then as I am now.
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