Once again today I was transporting myself across the country...but this time by air. I had the opportunity to spend 4.5 hours in a small airport waiting for the small plane to be fixed. While waiting I met a man who worked in Antarctica during the IGY. ( I am being somewhat vague as we didn't discuss sharing his life story on the Internet)What a serendipitous meeting. We discussed life on the ice, science in the 1950's and how he used planning and homework to turn (even more) serendipitous meetings into a career. His interest in earth sciences dated back to a work study job as an undergrad. He started in his specialty because he needed one more class to fill scholarship scheduling requirements. He spent 5 years in Antarctica because he was the only one in his field that applied to go. I am not saying he lucked into his work, but that hard work and chance meetings enabled his career to take him to some amazing places. His stories were amazing and I would love to have him sit down in a high school science class and discuss field science in Antarctica in the 1950's.
It got me thinking about my circuitous path to my present position and how I can, maybe, help the next generation of scientists turn some serendipitous meetings into full time careers.