Sunday, July 25, 2010

...and that's why I do academic science.

Yesterday I met with a group of business-types in New York City. I traveled on their invitation to discuss a new business plan and some ways that I could help. They have extensive experience and a truly innovative concept that I find really exciting.  I went to speak with them and share some ideas.

The question came up about my availability for on-site work, maybe as a permanent fixture.  It sure would be interesting, I'd never have to write grants again, I'd get to work on an exciting problem with an innovative team.  It is an attractive idea in many respects.

I walked from that meeting to meet a former student for lunch.  She's in NYC working on installing rooftop gardens and doing really well.  On the way to the meeting I thought about the possibility of moving to an exciting place and leaving behind the string of unfunded grants, persistent begging, nasty manuscript reviews and the endless meetings. The appeal was growing.

Then I met with Kayla, a former student.  I didn't recognize her in the cafe until she stood up and yelled "Over here!" Turns out that she got all growed up and is doing well.

We talked and she reminded me of good times we had in lab and how I helped guide her to winning a poster contest at a national meeting.  We talked about science, her training, and the experiments we did- along with things we might try in the future.  She told me that I was an important mentor and greatly influential in her life.

Business plans are motivating and new projects exciting.  Moving to a new tax bracket would be nice too.

But that 45 minute lunch with a former student, along with her kind remembrances and sweet comments, remind me exactly why I work in academic science.

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