Last week’s call for non-academic scientists produced a much larger response than I was expecting– more than 30 people volunteered. Thanks to all who volunteered, and if you’re interested, please feel free to contact me– it’s not too late to get involved.

As I said in that post, I plan to post a series of short interviews with people who have science degrees, but are not working in academia. The idea here is to provide information on career options for scientists and science majors beyond the “go to grad school, do a post-doc, get a faculty position” track that is too often assumed to be the default. Accordingly, I’ve sent each of the volunteers ten questions about their careers, and I’ll be posting their answers to those questions over the next several days.

Because every good project needs an acronym that could be confused with something far more prestigious, we’ll call this the “Project for Non-Academic Science,” and posts in this series will be tagged “PNAS” for ease of finding/ avoiding. I should also note that there is a blog The Alternative Scientist with a similar mission, though it hasn’t been updated since May.

I’ll space the PNAS posts out a bit, a few a day, so they don’t totally dominate the blog. The first couple will show up shortly.

Thanks again to everyone who volunteered. I hope this turns out to be helpful for young scientists thinking about their career options.


  1. #1 Joe
    July 20, 2009

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences?

  2. #2 Rhett
    July 20, 2009

    There is also the Careers Using Physics (CUP) which includes the Hidden Physicist. This is a magaziney type page that highlights people with careers that are not in physics but have physics degrees. Not as general as science.

  3. #3 Steve
    July 20, 2009

    There are a few other places that have done similar
    interviews and profiles, at least in physics. You
    might look at

    The Americal Physical Society’s “Physics Central”
    — see the “people in physics” section,
    Some of the people profiled thee are academics, but
    many aren’t.

    The American Institute of Physics used to publish
    “The Industrial Physicist.” It’s no longer produced,
    but there is a page of profiles of physicists in industry

    The Institute of Physics (the UK equivalent of the
    APS) publishes Physics World, which has a regular
    feature called “Once a Physicist” that is entirely
    short interviews with people with physics degrees
    now working (mostly) outside academia. I think
    you can see these at

    There’s a collection of interviews with women in
    science at
    About half of these are in academia, I think, and
    half not.

  4. #4 Julie
    July 20, 2009

    Thank you so much for this series! It’s great to see what else I can do with my eventual PhD.

  5. #5 Chuk
    July 20, 2009

    I think perhaps the name needs to be changed to avoid the acronym conflict. Let’s call it the Project for Non-Institutional Science instead. PNIS.

  6. #6 Matt
    July 20, 2009

    Thank you for this series! I just read the first couple of posts for this and it is a fantastic idea. As a grad student in physics it’s nice to know there are plenty of things for students to shoot for besides the ‘classic’ “tenure-track at a R1”.

  7. #7 Pam
    July 21, 2009

    Even though I was certain I didn’t want to go into academia after grad school, I had a hard time figuring out how to get into non-academic science, thanks to the “academia is all” atmosphere. So, I hope this series will be helpful for students who are in that position now.

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