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Left Brained by Nature and by Nurture

December 15, 2010

Creativity is not exactly my strong suit; ask me to write a lab report or analyze data—now that’s in my comfort zone.

It seems there are as many colleges and universities as there are stars in the sky and with all of the options for science degrees, it amazes me more students do not find the same passion for science that I have. During the time that I have been in college, a number of my fellow science enthusiasts have moved on to various other areas of study, leaving science and all its components at the opposite end of the spectrum. I expect, as classes progress, the balance will continue to tip and more people will transfer out of science programs than transfer in.

But for those who have not found their niche yet, look this way: science might be your calling.

I have been steadfast in my love of science since I was a child, soaking up everything from science class like a blonde-haired braces-wearing sponge. Fourth grade homework, which might have included learning the different ecosystems or fish life cycles usually ended with me listening to my dad, a trained marine and molecular biologist turned cancer scientist, telling me about the estuarine environments of Fundulus heterclitus, or some other such topic. I was enamored by my own science superhero. To this day we play this game where I call him and rant off some obscure fact about some rare fungus I learned about in class and he responds, ‘oh yah, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae is one of the most important cultured fungi.’ One day I will tell him something he does not know.

Growing up in a house so affluent in science (Mom just as sciency as Dad), I knew early on that I was going to end up on a career path similar to that of one if not both of my parents. Perhaps there is a genetic component that predisposes certain individuals to be more left-brained. More importantly, I believe how science is perceived at an early age affects how kids-turned-adults feel about it later on. I always enjoyed learning the random facts my dad rambled off concerning whatever I was learning about in class and perhaps that led to my choice of making a career out of the life sciences. Either way, it is what it is. Can’t fight it.

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