One of the things I love the most about being a scientist is how science lets you explore the world. The scientific community knows no borders and – aside from some annoying red tape to get through armed with patience and good grace – has no borders. International collaboration is essential to scientific development. If we look at all scientific endeavor on Earth, scientific collaborations are zipping through oceans, borders and time lines.
During my time as a graduate student, I got to collaborate with people from Japan, Spain, the US, France and India to carry out my research. As well as collaboration, science also brings people to travel. Scientific careers are enhanced by getting to know different research environments and ways of thinking. The ability to bring together the best people for the job in one location from the four corners of the earth is paramount to scientific progress. Scientists trained in different techniques of familiar with different backgrounds coming together is how science advances. This is achieved both by attending conferences and by international job placements.
In fact, the scientific community is pretty much made up of highly-qualified nomads that move from country to country to acquire the background they need to do they work they are passionate about. As a graduate student, I go to work with people from Germany, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, France, Italy, India and Spain. As a postdoc, I have moved to the USA where I work with English, Irish and Japanese scientists. This is not only good for productivity, but makes the scientific environment one of the best to work in.
Too often we focus on stories of over-worked lab-rat academics, heartless competition and stolen ideas. In fact, a lot of working in academia is rather wonderful because of the people we get to meet and the places we get to visit and even live in. If you are considering a career in research, add being a Nerdy Nomad to the list of considerations! It is sometimes stressful and tiring, but it is certainly worth the ride.
This post is part of the series: Life Of a Scientist. To find out more, check out the rest of the posts here.