A 17-year-old high school student on the threshold of pursuing a scientific career worries about the public's perception of science and of what research brings to the world. A 72-year-old academic chemist is concerned that young scientists are looking to industry, rather than academia, for fulfilling work.

These two people, at opposite ends of a professional lifetime, are different in many ways. But they, and three other researchers of different ages interviewed for this article, agree on many issues affecting their workaday lives. And although these scientists aren't among the scientific community's most eminent investigators, they share many of the same concerns.

In a survey of elite, well-known scientists conducted by The Scientist earlier this year (Jan. 7, 1991, page 1), there was a consensus that funding shortfalls for investigator-initiated projects, the need to encourage more young people to take up science careers, and the negative public perception of science...

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