• Question: Have you ever had a downfall in your career?

    Asked by bonfilia to Damien, Rachael, Simon, Suzi, Tim on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Suzi Gage

      Suzi Gage answered on 14 Jun 2011:

      Hi @bonfilia
      This is a good question!
      I have struggled in my career for a while, because for the last 3 years I have been trying to get funding to do my PhD. Finally last year I got some funding, but I couldn’t afford to study without having an income, so I needed to find funding, either from a government research council, or from a charity, or from a company.

      As there is a recession at the moment, there is a lot less money available to fund science, so this has made it difficult. I feel very lucky to have money to do my research 🙂

      Hope this answers your question!

    • Photo: Damien Hall

      Damien Hall answered on 16 Jun 2011:

      No-one’s career is ever completely smooth – that’d be very boring! Downfalls and mistakes are good places to learn things from.

      If you look at my career on my IAS homepage


      though, you will see something that you might think was a downfall there. When I first left University, I thought I would like to work for the European Union or in European politics, so I got a job as a lobbyist near Parliament in Westminster. After a few years, I found out I really didn’t like that job, and I decided to go back to University to do linguistic science, which I am still doing. But the fact that I worked in European politics for five years means that other people in science who are the same age as me are five years ahead of me in their careers, because they never left science.

      So that might be a downfall, but I don’t think it was completely, because I did learn things from that time as a lobbyist. I learned some really good things about how to write, which is a very important thing if you are a scientist, as you let other people know about your discoveries by publishing articles about them. Most importantly, though, I learned that you could be a scientist even if you had also done other things along the way, and I learned that what I really wanted to be was a scientist and not a lobbyist.

    • Photo: Rachael Ward

      Rachael Ward answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      Hi @bonfilia

      Good question.

      The money for my research got cut earlier than we expected at the beginning of this year so that was a bit of a downfall as it means I have to look for a new job. However, because of this I am now moving to Berlin and am really excited so I think the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” could apply to a lot of the problems we face!