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Scientists Going Global

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In a world exploding with innovation and research, opportunities for college graduates in the sciences abound. And they aren’t just found in the United States – in fact, there are a wealth of organizations and programs that can take the curious scientist around the world…if you know where to look.

To help Harvard scientists navigate this new territory, the Office of Career Services welcomed five Fellows from the Program on Science, Technology and Society (STS) based at the Harvard Kennedy School. Moderated by postdoctoral Fellow Lee Vinsel and supported by program director and STS scholar Sheila Jasanoff, the panel explored a host of diverse experiences that spanned several countries and even more disciplines of knowledge.

Dr. Elizabeth Barron, a Fellow for both the STS program and the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, described interesting opportunities within the United States. After completing her undergraduate degree, Barron joined the Peace Corps for two years, serving in Niger as an environmental education volunteer. While cautioning prospective Corps members about the grueling application process, she nevertheless emphasized the number and flexibility of scientific efforts within the Corps. Barron then spent a year with AmeriCorps aiding a wildlife management project in New Mexico. She also suggested seeking work within any number of government agencies, among them the EPA and NASA, which could very easily turn into full time work.

Henri Boullier is a French PhD candidate in sociology at LATTS/Universite Paris-Est and IFRIS, and an STS Fellow. He described the community of scientists and STS scholars in France as social and very open to new researchers from abroad. Students interested in working in France can look to the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for funding, as well as one of the numerous Fulbright grants available. Boullier also recommended CampusFrance as a tool for finding science opportunities.

Mads Dahl Gjefsen is a PhD student at the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo, Norway, and an STS Fellow. Students looking to study in Norway can look to the Norwegian Research Council in addition to Fulbright grants. Those students interested in STS scholarship should seek out the Copenhagen Business School, a leader in the field. Gjefsen also recommended contact with the Scandinavian Studies Program at Harvard for general information. Above all, he said, it will be helpful for students to contact universities directly to start a conversation about possible research.

Dr. Emma Frow, a Fellow with the STS program, is a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Originally from Canada, Frow completed her undergraduate and doctoral degrees at UK universities before getting involved in volunteer opportunities exploring the relationship between science and society. Among her experiences – and her recommendations to interested students – are positions with the Royal Institution, promoting science; the Foundation for Science and Technology, encouraging scientific debate within Parliament; and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Moreover, Frow emphasized the wealth of STS departments in the UK as well as PhD scholarships available to study there, most notably the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright scholarships.

Maggie Curnutte, a United States native who is now a PhD candidate at the University of Milan, is also an STS Fellow. Though she studied philosophy as an undergraduate, Curnutte ultimately decided to pursue graduate studies within the hard sciences after some time as a technician in a Boston laboratory. Her program in Milan combines her interests in both social policy and hard scientific research, though Curnutte was quick to say that those students interested in pure science can also find opportunities at similar universities. On that note, she noted the wealth of scholarships available to study on international campuses, where visitors are welcomed.

Budding scientists should do everything they can now to build and expand their personal network. Through leveraging this network, believes Jasanoff, students will find the greatest opportunities with the most ease. Networks will also help students discern which programs and universities are the leaders in the field of the student’s interest, as there is no “Mecca” equivalent for scientists looking abroad. Indeed, Harvard students should wear their interdisciplinary background proudly as they search and inquire about scientific opportunities abroad.

For more information, explore the links above or contact OCS career adviser Anthony Arcieri, who can put you in touch with any of the aforementioned personalities. Good luck!

—Nicandro Iannacci, ’13