Esa, on Becoming a Scientist

April 27, 2009

If you’re like me, then all of your life has been a giant question mark.

The answer: 42.

No, but seriously, there was never really any doubt that I’d become a scientist. I can remember being four years old and wandering around my yard examining plant life and watching animals interact (usually my dogs tormenting a squirrel, but still…). There was also little doubt that I would be a skeptic – at five, after getting home from Easter Sunday Mass, I tormented my mother with questions about how we know God exists (she couldn’t answer my questions very well and I didn’t go back to church much after that…).

How I got from those preschool days to applying to Ph.D. programs would make a very long, boring book, but here is some interesting trivia:

  • I grew up in an average conservative town in New York.
  • I could talk about anything with my parents, but they taught me that politics and religion are societal taboos – I didn’t often listen.
  • The first thing I ever wanted to be was a detective, then an astronomer. (Now I am neither, but a lab rat instead.)
  • My favorite question was “How does this work?”. Followed closely by “But how does THAT work, then?”.
  • Evolution was taught at my school – and no one complained.
  • The question was always “WHERE are you going to college?”
  • My little cousin was diagnosed with autism at age 4.
  • The most important phrase I learned in college was “It depends”.
  • Statistics has always been my forte.
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