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REFILE-Weird Science: First jobs of some leading scientists
July 7, 2017 / 6:18 PM / 5 months ago

REFILE-Weird Science: First jobs of some leading scientists

 (Refiles to fix typo in the 7th paragraph.)
    By Chris Taylor
    NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters) - While top scientists may be
deploying their brainpower on critical projects such as climate
change research and conservation, they often entered the
workforce in far more modest ways.
    For Reuters' monthly 'First Jobs' series, we chatted with a
few leading scientists about how they got their starts.
    Jane Goodall
    Founder, Jane Goodall Institute; UN Messenger of Peace
    First job: Secretary
    "When I left school, we had no money for university, but
just enough for a boring secretarial course. Before getting a
'proper' job, I had a part-time job working for my aunt who ran
the children's orthopedic clinic. Twice a week the orthopedic
surgeon came to examine patients, and my job was to take down
his notes shorthand, and then type them out. This gave me a
profound understanding and empathy for those with physical
disabilities (there was much polio, club feet - and even rickets
- back then).
    "My next job was a secretarial job involving a lot of filing
at the Registry Office at Oxford University. And then came
transfer to London to work at Stanley Schofield Productions on
Bond Street. We made advertising films, and my job was to choose
the music. But I also learned makeup. My masterpiece was to
paint the seam of a non-existent stocking on the bare leg of an
    "When invited to Africa, I earned money by being a waitress
in a hotel around the corner from my home in Bournemouth - very
hard work indeed. And the last job prior to my career was to be
secretary for Louis Leakey at the Natural History Museum in
Nairobi. So the boring secretarial course was certainly worth it
in the end!"
    Carolyn Porco
    Planetary scientist; visiting scholar, UC Berkeley
    First job: Library page
    "I was around 13, and after school I would go to the
Westchester Square library in the Bronx. My job was to shelve
books, so I got very familiar with authors of great literature. 
    "I remember one time I was waiting for the bus after my
shift, at around 6 at night, and saw a bright star in the sky. 
    "It got me wondering about our place in the cosmos. At that
age I had already started thinking about existential questions
like the meaning of life. But now, instead of wondering, 'What
are we doing here?' I started thinking about 'Okay, so where is
here?' That was one of the very first steps on my journey to
where I am today."
    Michio Kaku
    Theoretical physicist, City College of New York 
    First job: Gardener
    "During World War Two, my father was in a relocation camp
for four years. After the camp opened up, there weren't many
jobs for Japanese-Americans. But there were some gardening jobs
opening up, because the suburbs were spreading. So he would take
me along, and I would mow lawns and water plants and carry
    "As a child I basically had a choice of two paths: One, my
father wanted me to take over the gardening business. And two, I
wanted to become a physicist. After that gardening job, I
decided I would much rather work with my mind.

    James Hansen
    Climate scientist, Columbia University
    First job: Newspaper delivery boy
    "When I was in the third grade, one of my sisters gave me
about 10 of her customers on her paper route. After school I
would deliver the Omaha World Herald to them. 
    "The World Herald cost 25 cents for the six weekdays, plus
15 cents for Sunday. I made 5/6 of a cent per day per customer,
and three cents on Sunday - provided that I collected. 
    "When my earning reached a dollar, I would convert it to a
silver dollar (there were still a lot in circulation in 1950)
and put it in a tall can. I saved most of the money, but did buy
a Radio Flyer red wagon for $9, and later a bicycle.
    "By the time I graduated from high school I had saved
$1,900. That helped me graduate from college with no student

 (Editing by Beth Pinsker and Frances Kerry)

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