At the beginning of my talk the other day, I showed a slide that I’ve often used throughout my career: the “seven ages of the scientist”: that is, the various activities we engage in as our career progresses from our Ph.D. to our dotage. I usually put an arrow next to the stage I’m at when I give the talk (I’m currently at stage 7).
I’m often asked for copies of that slide (in fact, a commenter requested one here), so I reproduce the latest version of the text. Steal it and alter it if you want!
This melancholy career path is drawn, of course, from Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage” speech spoken by Jaques in As You Like It (if you haven’t read it, click the link: it’s wonderful).
The Seven Ages of the Scientist
- As student, listens to advisor give talk on student’s own work
- As postdoc, gives talks about his/her own work
- As professor, gives talks about his/her students’ work
- Talks and writes about “the state of the field”
- Talks and writes about “the state of the field” eccentrically and incorrectly—always in a self-aggrandizing way.
- Gives after-dinner speeches and writes about society and the history of the field
- Writes articles about science and religion
Right before my talk, my friend David Hillis (a systematist) noted that there should be a stage 8: “blogs about science and religion.” But of course that doesn’t apply to me since I do not “blog.”