All in a Day's Work


Every job has its downsides, but as Thanksgiving Day approaches, scientists may want to express gratitude that they don't have to spend their time at one of what Popular Science calls the "worst jobs in science."

The gigs on the worst-job list are rated according to criteria that include "inspires ridicule," "risk of disease," "boredom," "risk of death" and "olfactory overload." They involve such tasks as crawling "through snake-infested vegetation to collect monkey dung"; spending stupefying 12-hour shifts hunched over a microscope "for weeks on end," then interspersing those sessions with occasional periods of being "shoulder deep in mud"; or dodging merchants who "regularly swatted [the scientist] with brooms, spat at his feet, and waved blowtorches and machetes to keep him away." This last job had the added feature of leading to a "mysterious monthlong illness that caused [the scientist's] hair to fall out."

But all is not bleak on the scientific job front, because some people land truly "awesome" jobs, the piece adds. Two such jobs that made that list are road testing Corvettes and other topflight performance cars years before they reach the market and visiting culinary hot spots around the world in search of candidate flavors for new ice creams. One suspects that a tenure-track appointment at a reasonably well-resourced institution would prove sufficiently stimulating for most Science Careers readers.

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