Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

AriAstronomer
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 4:53 pm

Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby AriAstronomer » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:28 am

Hey everyone,
So I know that Astrobiology is starting to get out of the physics realm, but I was wondering if anyone knew of any strong astrobiology progams in the States or Canada. Do you think astrobiology is something you can't get into with a physics/math/compsci background, or do you think after a few quick catch up courses you're good to go (or maybe just dive in there and learn as you go?)?

Another thing that has recently been churning in my minds is whether or not astrobiology, or even astronomy is even going to last much longer. My future lies in one of the two fields (astronomy has higher probability), but I think a real concern to begin thinking about is the state of the economy. I feel like if the economy crashes, astrobiology and astronomy will be among the first things to get their budgets cut, and although I wouldn't forgive myself if I decided not to do astronomy/astrobiology based on these fears (especially if the economy ended up not crashing), it seems to be something to watch out for. What do you guys think the next 5-10 years is going to look like as far as physics/astronomy grad programs go (funding, interest, etc.)?

Any answers to either question would be super helpful.

Ari

TheBeast
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Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:06 am

Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby TheBeast » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:28 pm

No one can predict the future. Fundamental science, in general, is something that is in danger in tough economic times. That being said, while I can see astro budgets being axed, I don't see them being entirely eliminated. It's one of the few areas of physics that draws genuine interest from the general public. Ever seen how people "oooh" and "aah" over pictures from space, or discussions of extra planets? There are other areas that are way more likely of losing their funding first.

If you're worried about the prospects of finding a career in your field of interest, my suggestion to you would be to actively try to accumulate other skills that are transferable while doing your research (e.g. experience with electronics, programming, management, etc.). That way, if in 10 years that job market for your field goes completely down the drain, you have some other marketable skills to fall back on.

But, you should know, that for most physics fields, long term job prospects in that field are slim to begin with. There are way more students that there are professorships and tenured national/private lab positions.

Edit: typos
Last edited by TheBeast on Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AriAstronomer
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 4:53 pm

Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby AriAstronomer » Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:26 pm

Really good advice. Makes alot of sense. Thanks.

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Andromeda
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Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby Andromeda » Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:18 pm

Another thing to keep in mind in the long term is while countries often come and go with their funding very often other countries often rise to the plate- I'm starting my PhD in Holland this fall for example because the best radio astronomy array isn't in the USA.

It's like how particle physics didn't end when they canceled the Superconducting Supercollider I think- economies rise and fall, but it'll take something really apocalyptic to make it disappear altogether everywhere on the planet (and then you'll have other things to worry about).

AriAstronomer
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 4:53 pm

Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby AriAstronomer » Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:51 pm

Andromeda wrote:I think- economies rise and fall, but it'll take something really apocalyptic to make it disappear altogether everywhere on the planet (and then you'll have other things to worry about).


haha, too true. Both good points, and both have eased my fears.

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InquilineKea
Posts: 301
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Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby InquilineKea » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:23 pm

AriAstronomer wrote:Hey everyone,
So I know that Astrobiology is starting to get out of the physics realm, but I was wondering if anyone knew of any strong astrobiology progams in the States or Canada. Do you think astrobiology is something you can't get into with a physics/math/compsci background, or do you think after a few quick catch up courses you're good to go (or maybe just dive in there and learn as you go?)?

Another thing that has recently been churning in my minds is whether or not astrobiology, or even astronomy is even going to last much longer. My future lies in one of the two fields (astronomy has higher probability), but I think a real concern to begin thinking about is the state of the economy. I feel like if the economy crashes, astrobiology and astronomy will be among the first things to get their budgets cut, and although I wouldn't forgive myself if I decided not to do astronomy/astrobiology based on these fears (especially if the economy ended up not crashing), it seems to be something to watch out for. What do you guys think the next 5-10 years is going to look like as far as physics/astronomy grad programs go (funding, interest, etc.)?

Any answers to either question would be super helpful.

Ari


Hey - well - I share the exact same concern, but I don't think things will be too much of an issue for applying for grad school. One thing though - geoscience is a lot more secure than astro is, and the overlap between geoscience and astrobiology in particular is *huge*.

In any case - I share the same interests as you - I'll send you a PM.

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InquilineKea
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:07 pm

Re: Astrobiology programs? The economy?!!

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:30 pm

Oh crap, I think you're right. I might not be able to get two specific advisers in astrobiology due to funding cuts this year in particular. So this really hurts, given that their interests were really close to mine.

(edit: same is also true for another one who also doesn't have enough funding - and has to use the same funding for students and postdocs - though this may not be specific to funding cuts this year).




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