1

the
shell-cracker

 

FLORIDA CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN FISHERIES SOCIETY

 

July, 2003†††††††††††††††††††

 

†† http://www.sdafs.org/flafs

Summer is upon us with its promise of new projects and the chance to get our feet wet in the field.† I myself hope to be on the opposite side of the world mucking around in equatorial tide pools by the time you read this.† These times are opportunities to learn new techniques, see new habitats and take a fresh look at the world.† For my part, I look forward to summer sojourns as a chance to escape the demands of the office and classroom.† But truth be told, my rush to break out is motivated by reasons more deep-seated than diversion aloneÖabove all I look forward to spending time with my students.† Few things in life make me happier than sharing what little I know with students and interns in the field.† Strange as it seems to me, my views on this subject are not especially common.† Some of my colleagues, for example, have no time for students. They see their role, so they tell me, not as a mentor, but as scientific superheroes wrestling truth and enlightenment from chaos (I have this mental picture of them, like Archimedes, shouting 'Eureka!' every time they run an experiment).† I am often caught off guard by this type of scientific hubris. The fact is most science doesnít open up new worlds of investigation; rather it illuminates small dark places in the larger scheme of things.† Indeed itís easier to be a legendary actor or sports figure than a legendary scientist.† Ever hear of Babe Ruth or Charlie Chaplin?† My guess would be that most of you werenít even alive when they were around but you certainly recognize their names.† Now can you name the scientists who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology last year, or the only ecologist to ever win2 the Prize?† Just a hunch, but Iíll wager that most of you didnít have the correct answers at hand.† The take-home message here is that despite optimistic self-assessments of our own importance, our scientific achievements are destined to be soon forgotten regardless of the honors they may have accrued.† So, if our immortality is not guaranteed by our scientific achievements, how then is one to leave a legacy of accomplishment behind?† I would argue that our students are our only lasting investment in the future.† To be sure, they are more work than any experiment that we ever have or ever will do, and we can never be assured of good results.† Some will go on to make us proud and some will disappoint us terribly, but all will leave their mark on us as surely as we have marked them.†† Much of what they become is because of or in spite of our influence, and each will take a little piece of us with them when they leave.† As fisheries scientists we, more than most, are aware of our own history and our place in it.† Our academic families are a rich tapestry of names like Louis Agassiz, David Starr Jordan, F.E.J. Fry and Carl Hubbs.† The world remembers these biologists not because they were better researchers than their contemporaries (often they werenít), but because they were great teachers who left behind a multitude of well-trained students to carry on their traditions and ideas.† By agreeing to take on a new graduate student, assistant or intern, we help them grow as intellectuals and they assure us that our own efforts are put to the best possible use.† In the end we will be remembered not for the things we do, but the people we helped along the way; a little something to consider wherever your summer travels take you.

All the Best, Wayne A. Bennett

President FL AFS

1Brenner, Horvitz, and Sulston; 2Nikolass Tinbergan, 1973

 

 

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