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Combining fields/ transferring fields from a PhD to a postdoc.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:51 pm
by Sisa
I would like to ask you for your advice in a somehow confusing moment. I did my undergraduate in environmental sciences, and a MSc in Plant Molecular Biology. After getting very interested in Natural Products and Ethnobotany, I worked as a volunteer in a Biodiversity institute associated with a Pharmaceutical company, studying the medicinal properperties and the potential sustainbale use of specific species in Costa Rica. I absolutely loved my worked there. Apart from searching for cures to Malaria and Chagas, I liked the fact that 50% of the benefits obtained were invested in conservation strategies in the country. I believe the best one to conserve natural resources is to sustainable use them, instead of creating untouchable reserves that will prevent people to access the resources they need for their subsistence, and will ultimately lead to poverty, illegal uses, etc. I loved the field work for the beauty and pace they provided me with, but also the lab work, which I considered fascinating and challenging.I realized my background in Molecular Biology was not very strong if I wanted to master the field during my career. I spent a few months as a trainee at EMBL in Germany, and while still there I was offered a scholarship to do a PhD in the US. I am now in Johns Hopkins doing a PhD in Pharmacology. I am really enjoying it, but I feel I am getting so specialized in my topic, that I am getting too far from my original idea. I am worried that I am not going to find a way to combine my interest in the study of Natural Products with the study of ethnobotany as a sustainable use of biodiversity. I am worried I am trying to spred my research field of interest too much and if I do so, I won\'t be able to accomplish much or will have difficulties selling myself when looking for an academic position. I have even considered the possibility of transferring to a PhD program that offers me exactly the kind of reseacrh I want to do, but I am in the 4th year, and I would not like to make such a drastic decision without being sure. I have been offered a scholarship to do graduate studies in any Canadian University (MS/ PhD/...), and I was thinking that maybe a MSc degree after my PhD will help me establish a transition to combine my current field with the study of Ethnobotany and Biodiversity.What do you think of that option? Is it a logical step in an academic career? Of course, it would be easier and more convenient for me to do it as a postdoc, but I wonder if a faculty member will consider seriously a person who comes from a PhD in Molecular Sciences to do research on Biodiversity, specifically sutainable uses of biodiversity and Ethnobotany. Please give me ideas and advice. And honestly let me know if you would consider this challenging and ambitious or irrealistic and desultory. Thank you.