Is there a single path that leads one to a career in science? Do you start with a wide-eyed curiosity about the way the world works that leads you to an undergraduate science major, followed by a Ph.D. program to winnow your specialty, and, finally, into an academic institution to enrich the scientific body of literature with your discoveries? For many, this is a rewarding path, but it is not nearly the only one available to those who want to pursue science as their livelihood today.
Click on the photos below to meet 17 scientists who have traversed a wide array of pathways to find exciting careers. They didn’t always know exactly where they were headed! Many felt real fear in wandering off the main road. We are grateful to each of these scientists for giving us a glimpse of the journey that has led them to both personal and professional success.
Featured here are museum officials and historians, business owners and military veterans, policy wonks and journalists, and yes, academic researchers—all of whom have enriched our global community with their scientific expertise. Together, the paths they’ve forged create a captivating map of the world of science available to all of us. We hope you share this with the wide-eyed, curious youngsters in your life who are looking ahead to a career of discovery or even use it to find a new adventure for yourself. Either way, please enjoy the travels of our featured scientists in this special careers feature.