We've heard a great deal lately about the impending shortage of scientists in the United States. We're told that fewer young people are pursuing careers in science. And compounding the problem, we're told, is the fact that women, African Americans, and Hispanics--while increasing in numbers in the U.S. population--are underrepresented in the sciences.

Isn't it crucially important, in light of all this, for those who are firmly ensconced in the U.S. scientific community--and want to see it go on flourishing--to understand what does and does not attract people to science? Acquiring an understanding of what makes scientists happy or unhappy in their work should make us better able to go about attracting more young people into our profession. Moreover, contemplating the matter might make us better able to understand ourselves as professional researchers.

I first became interested in the subject of how happy scientists are with their work when I...

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