and preferences of students. Merna Villarejo, professor emerita at the University of California, Davis, has asked students in interviews about the motivating factors that caused them to make particular career decisions. Students who went to medical school tended to say that they want to give back to the community. But “that is not what researchers say,” Villarejo observed. “The most frequent answer for researchers for ‘why did you choose your profession’ is ‘because I really love science; it just turns me on; it is exciting; it is great.’”
According to Rick McGee, associate dean for faculty affairs at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, another distinguishing characteristic was between students who wanted a fairly predictable future and those who were willing to live with more uncertainty. The students most likely to go into research were the ones who said, when asked about their future, “‘I don’t know, I might be doing this, I might be doing that, I might do this for awhile, I might do that for awhile.’ … They really are quite different people,” McGee said.
As Daryl E. Chubin, planning committee member and director of the AAAS Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity, said, many kinds of investigations can produce information needed to advance minorities in research careers. “Where does knowledge come from? We know it comes from data and we know it comes from research. But it also comes from evaluation and it comes from technical assistance and it comes from first-person reports…. The challenge here is to learn from all of these interventions and then try to apply that in our own context.”