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RE: VP Professionals

I agree.  I am currently working on my masters thesis and working for the
Army, doing, among other things, paleontology.  I feel safe in saying that I
am probably the only paleo person who works for the Army.  I am carving out
a niche and clawing and scrambling to find a way to keep myself in it.  I
take home all sorts of extra work and am trying to make myself and my paleo
talents indispensable.  I am finally, after over 3 years, starting to get
some notice and recognition for my work.  You just have to be tenacious and
hope it works out for you.

Lauri L. Bartlema
Curatorial Assistant
Conservation Division
Directorate of Environment
Fort Bliss, Texas

> ----------
> From:         Ralph Chapman[SMTP:Chapman.Ralph@NMNH.SI.EDU]
> Reply To:     Chapman.Ralph@NMNH.SI.EDU
> Sent:         Wednesday, November 10, 1999 2:43 PM
> To:   dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject:      VP Professionals
> I spent some time thinking about the recent notes about
> batches of graduate students and the lack of jobs and stuff.
> I understand the frustration of some who think it best to
> not bring along students that probably won't get academic
> jobs for various reasons, many not related to their talent
> but to the great random and non-random processes involved
> with how academic jobs get assigned. So most who go on to
> some graduate level research won't get jobs teaching at a
> university. So what?
> I would hate to lose what is a great resource for all of us
> because we have not used our imagination. The growth
> industry in paleo jobs will be brand new niches that are
> carved out by people who find a way to do some paleo as part
> of what they do. I would like to see more high school
> teachers have advanced degrees in something like paleo
> because too many don't have a good grasp of any one subject
> and, as such, don't have a good enough grasp of how science
> works in general. Many high schools provide more research
> time (Summers, etc) and higher salaries than most small
> colleges with huge teaching workloads. Paleo is a great hook
> to get people interested in science and would be great for a
> sub-college teacher. If you want to go on and know your
> talents are different from a Steve Gould, prepare for a
> different teaching level and use whatever spare time you
> have to do the research on what we love. Perhaps one can
> approach whole school systems for a position rather than one
> school. I won't say it is easy, but I know very few people
> who haven't worked like hell to get the jobs they have. It
> is very much worth trying.
> There are lots of niches that can be exploited, or defined,
> that can allow you time to make a living and still do work
> in the field, perhaps with some time constraints but, hey,
> who doesn't have time constraints. My position here at NMNH
> is the only one like it I've ever heard of. It certainly
> isn't a traditional avenue of development and I can't tell
> you how it developed because it just did and, at times, I
> still do some addition odd things as part of it that. These,
> at times, have been stuff I didn't enjoy but some have
> turned out really cool, although not paleo. We identified
> Jeffrey Dahmer's first murder victim in my lab using
> techniques I was using with dinosaurs and applying them to
> forensics. Just gotta be real flexible - the way life is
> anyway.
> So my point - and I hope it hasn't been too covoluted (Had a
> 22 hour airline fiasco a day and a half ago and am still
> dead headed) - is that one should get advanced knowledge in
> paleo if it is a passion (like it has been for me) and try
> to keep an eye out for ways to make a living, do some more
> paleo and, if possible, sometimes both. Most paleo types
> spend most of their 8 hours a day with teaching and
> administrivia, and finally get some research done after
> hours. Now if you have a nack for investing and make a bunch
> of million dollars - open up your own paleo research
> institute and high a bunch of people to do paleo. I know
> exactly how I would spend the odd 100 million dollars if it
> ever comes my way - and lots of dinos and pubs would be the
> result. So, as much as I am sympathetic to people not
> getting jobs, it is a way of life in academia, so don't be
> shy about warping your environment to fit your needs in
> combination with flexibility on your part and I think it
> will surprise you how many will find niches. Hell, artists
> have been doing this for years in the field, which is why I
> have such admiration for them.
> Ralph Chapman