A lifetime commitment to science offers great personal rewards. But, as the notion of commitment implies, those rewards come with strings attached. There must be a commitment to work hard, to think clearly, and to act decisively. In brief, there must be a commitment to excellence. This quality, of course, is sought in every profession--in the corporate boardroom, among military staff, on the athletic field, on the concert stage, and in the airline cockpit--as well as at the laboratory bench.

Opportunism is a less widely admired quality. Its negative connotation extends beyond the crude "smash and grab" opportunism that most of society condemns. A scientist who has been labeled an opportunist bears some tarnish on his or her reputation. Some would maintain that opportunistic behavior in any endeavor, including in science, is most undesirable. Generally, commitment implies high moral purpose, while in many contexts opportunism suggests that morality has been...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?