science survey

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Wed Sep 11 2002 - 10:16:05 EDT

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    Hmmm, stereotypes of scientists, eh? I dread to think what images you
    might have (thick glasses, unkempt hair, unmatched socks, and a
    perpetually clueless, distant expression that leads to frequent
    collisions with unobserved objects like tables and walls?)

    Well, OK, I'll play. While I'm tempted to make stuff up (three heads,
    Martian race etc) I'll try to be honest...

    > How old are you?
    46. I actually had to think about that this year since I thought I was
    46 all last year (uh-oh, I can see this is reinforcing the stereotype!)

    > What do you look like? (Hair, body type, etc)?
    5'9", brown hair, light beard, blue eyes, glasses (not particularly
    thick, I would note, though studying anything smaller than whales would
    be impossible given my eyesight)

    > What kind of scientist are you?
    A biologist. Specifically, a cetologist (one who studies cetaceans).

    > What company do you work for?
    The US Government. Before that I worked at the Smithsonian Institution,
    and at a small non-profit research organization.

    > What do you wear to work?
    Casual clothing: jeans, shirts etc. Today I have on shorts (it's hot)
    and a Tshirt that reads "YOU SOUND REASONABLE - TIME TO UP THE

    > What kind of tools do you use? Technology?
    Lots of stuff. Large research vessels, cameras (for identifying
    individual whales), crossbows and darts (for taking small biopsy samples
    for genetic analysis), and a lab full of equipment that has in the past
    included seriously expensive genetics machinery (PCR machines, gene
    sequencers etc).

    > What gender are you?
    Male, last time I checked.

    > What race are you?
    Light green with purple spots. No, OK, white (English originally).

    > List three adjectives that best describe you.
    Over-educated, workaholic, sarcastic.

    > How much money do you make (range)?
    Somewhere aqround $90K a year when writing fees and book royalties are
    thrown in. I'm not actually sure.

    > What got you started in studying science?
    Accident. I was in the right place at the right time, volunteered for a
    research organization studying whales, and went from there.

    > Were you always interested in science, if not when did you start?
    Yes, from age 7, though I wanted to be an astronomer (then I realized
    that the math involved was way, waaaaaaaaaay beyond my capabilities).

    > Why are you interested in science?
    It is constantly challenging and novel, and I get to work in some
    interesting places with very cool animals.

    > Are you good at math?
    Passably so. But don't ask me to help with your calculus homework.

    > Do you enjoy being a scientist?
    Yes. if I had to go back 20 years and pick a career all over again, I'd
    still pick this one.

    Let me know how your project goes; I'd be interested to see how reality
    differs from stereotypes (whatever they might be - not sure I want to

    Phil Clapham wrote:
    > Hi, our names are Kathleen and Avery. We are in 8th grade and go to Cedarbrook Middle School (300 Longfellow Avenue, Wyncote, Pa.) In our science class, we were talking about the stereotypes of scientists. We wanted to find out whether they were incorrect or correct. So, we would appreciate if you would answer some of these questions. If you have any questions please contact our teacher Mrs. Kenna at
    > Thank you for taking the time to read and answer our questions. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to any of your colleagues. Please, e-mail your response to or We would appreciate if you would respond before 9-16-02.
    > Sincerely,
    > Kathleen and Avery


    Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

    tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

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