"So, You Want to Be A Science Professor!"
Richard H. Bube
The Education Business: Things My Mother Never Told Me
Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Stanford, CA 94305
on Science and Christian Faith, 41:143-151 (1989)]
©1996 by the American Scientific Affiliation
A career as a science professor in one of today's major research
universities holds many unique opportunities for meaningful and satisfying
service, but such a career may be quite different from the popular conception
of what such a position entails. In choosing a career, talented young Christians
should be aware of the actual duties, limitations, and opportunities of
various possible choices. My purpose in this paper is not to discourage
Christians from entering into academic careers where their insights, inputs,
and witness are indeed most valuable, but to give some perspective on what
it means to be a research science professor today, so that Christians contemplating
such careers will be better informed about them. It is also my desire to
encourage them to develop and preserve patterns within such an academic
career that allow a continuation of the most beneficial and significant
relationships in the midst of changing situations.
A Career as a member of the science faculty of a major university carries
with it a definite mystique that makes it especially appealing to many students
as they contemplate the nature of the career toward which they should direct
themselves and their plans. An academic career promises opportunities for
professional and personal development without some of the pressures and
limitations usually identified as characteristic of a career in the competitive
business environment of industrial research and development. These opportunities
are indeed still present, but changing patterns driven by a mounting sense
of worldwide competition are in the process of making major changes in university
goals and living. As a consequence, many of the commonly accepted perspectives
on academic life are now being challenged, and a new participant in the
academic enterprise may be surprised at distance between expectation and
It is especially important that bright, young Christians trained in science
be aware of the actual situations they are likely to encounter in different
career choices, rather than committing themselves to a particular choice
solely on the basis of a romanticized or idealized perspective. With this
awareness, hopefully they will be better informed and fortified to carry
through to authentic success in all aspects of their life as disciples of
To focus attention, we consider the fictitious personal history of one Jack
Challenge, which epitomizes the common expectation of what it means to be
a science professor in a major research university. (What is said of him
is equally true, if not more so, of his colleague in graduate school, Jane
Jack Challenge, Professor of Science
Handsome, young Jack Challenge is the typical Professor of Science at Numberone
University. At age 27 he had earned his Ph.D. with a brilliant dissertation
on a topic of great scientific and practical importance, and was promptly
appointed an Assistant Professor with tenure, at Numberone University, one
of the most famous research universities in the country.
Now his principal concern is the development of his research students, and
his role in helping these bright young minds sharpen and mature through
exciting teaching and research opportunities. He knows that his own success
can be measured not only in the technical training of his students, but
also in the personal qualities that they exhibit in their lives.
As a scientist, Prof. Jack Challenge rejoices to be a member of a community
of scholars dedicated to the pursuit of those truths susceptible to scientific
investigation, and his major activity in the carrying out of research is
guided by his desire to pursue problems in areas and of types that he perceives
to be of interest and importance, and that seem to be suitable for helping
his students grow.
He is grateful that as an academic, a member of a university faculty, he
enjoys the protection and seclusion of "the Ivory Tower," while
at the same time he takes care to be in touch with the world around him.
He is grateful also that he has the time and opportunity for serious reflective
thought, that he can give himself professionally to total absorption in
the scholarly pursuits related to his academic activities, and that he has
the unique opportunities to work one-on-one with students on projects that
they have designed together.
This fanciful scenario summarizes many of the most attractive aspects of
a career as a science professor. When they can be achieved, few would deny
that such a career is highly desirable.
When assessed against today's academic climate, however, it involves at
least ten partial or total misconceptions of what it means to be a Professor
Science at a major university today. By examining each of these in turn,
we are able to come to a more realistic assessment of what such a position
1. Get Tenure
In the real world no young person completes a Ph.D. Dissertation, no matter
how well done, and then immediately receives a tenured appointment at a
major university. Tenure, in those universities which continue this practice,
means acceptance into a permanent position at the university, from which
a faculty member cannot be removed except for gross neglect of duty or moral
turpitude. It was designed to preserve a free scholarly atmosphere, so that
scholars whose opinions differed from those of the university administration
could not be summarily fired for political reasons. Once a faculty member
has been employed continuously for more than 6 years--i.e., when he receives
an appointment for the seventh and later years--he is considered to have
In most cases today, tenure constitutes for the young faculty member a trial-by-fire,
a 6-year indentured servanthood at the Assistant Professor level, with the
carrot of a tenured permanent appointment at the end of the stick. Even
this carrot is not always present, since some major universities hire many
more Assistant Professors than to whom they could possibly give tenured
permanent positions. This leads to an environment where several Assistant
Professors scramble madly not only to satisfy the university system, but
in competition with one another to secure the only tenured position really
The effort to receive tenure is a difficult period indeed in the life of
a young faculty member. He has to undertake a teaching load often heavier
than that assigned to tenured faculty, perhaps teaching and developing courses
for the first time, and at the same time rate highly on whatever method
is used to evaluate teaching quality at that university. Although some major
university science departments do make a real effort to have most of the
introductory courses taught by distinguished, tenured faculty, many of the
other chores associated with teaching large classes or with the time- consuming
tasks of laboratory development and management regularly fall to the young
faculty member seeking tenure.
The young faculty member also has the task of getting a research program
started at the same time. Most of the financial support for research comes
form the government, with some possibly coming from related industries,
and this must be secured by the individual faculty member through proposals,
personal contacts, and an assortment of other uncertain routes. The young
faculty member just starting out, with a limited experience, is competing
for many of these funds with senior faculty members with distinguished reputations
and years of interaction with the funding agencies. In some cases the young
faculty member may be fortunate enough to be taken on as a participant in
an already existing research program of a senior faculty member, which relieves
the immediate pressure to raise funds successfully. In such a case, however,
it is essential for the young faculty member to disassociate himself as
quickly as possible from the senior faculty member, if he wishes to avoid
the doubt that he is unable to carry out his own research and gain his own
There are many other demands upon the young faculty member seeking tenure,
who must prove himself to be a loyal and useful member of the department
in which he is appointed. Some of these demands are discussed in more detail
later in terms of the general duties that a science professor carries.
The young faculty member must also be assiduous in publishing papers, appearing
at a variety of professional society meetings, presenting papers, getting
to know and to interact with leaders in his field, and in general making
certain that his name and career are recognized. For in order to obtain
that final vote for tenure, it is essential at every major university that
the faculty member be declared to be one of the very best people in the
world in his field in the opinion of experts and well-known senior faculty
around the world. The tenure test is not exhaustively described by "publish
or perish," but a long publication list judged to be distinguished
and valuable by other authorities is an essential ingredient.
2. Help Young Minds Develop
Of course, any serious science professor will have the development of his
students as one of his highest priorities. The opportunity to watch students
mature and develop is one of the great joys of an academic career, but the
actual situation at a major research university may make the attainment
of this ideal a little more difficult than anticipated. It is important
to appreciate what frequently happens in the process of the brightest students
becoming enrolled at a particular university.
We frequently hear that there is or will be a shortage of competent scientists
or engineers. This is presumably because the number of bright American students
who choose science or engineering for graduate education is not large enough.
The number of universities competing for them, however, is large. One of
the results is that many university departments today, in order to function
and to have the enrollment required for their continuation, have research
students drawn primarily from other counties in the world. Another is that
competition for the available American students is very sharp.
Science or engineering professors do not simply welcome the bright students
who choose to come to their university, but often they and others at the
university are engaged in a major effort to recruit students using a variety
of methods more commonly associated with corporate life than with universities.
Prospective graduate students come to interview the faculty at particular
universities to see to which university they will choose to come.
University financial aid committees compete with their counterparts at other
universities to see who can offer the most financially awarding fellowships
or financial aid packages. The top students may receive several financial
offers from different universities; they naturally tend to accept the most
financially rewarding in the same way that an athlete will go to the university
that offers the most promising scholarship. Larger departments have staff
whose major job is to travel around the country recruiting the best students
for that university, much like major industrial laboratories carry on active
recruitment programs for their employment needs. In smaller departments
individual faculty often carry all or part of this kind of activity.
At the bottom of much of these machinations is the conviction that a Number
One University can accept only Number One students. The desire of a faculty
member to help underdeveloped or underprivileged students to develop into
mature people and scientists or engineers, meets with great barriers in
spite of sincere programs of Affirmative Action. A university that regards
itself as great cannot afford to be held back by students who do not themselves
deserve the attribute "great."
Frequently, therefore,students come to be regarded as a commodity. The university
admits only the best students, because to admit others would be to downgrade
the quality of the university. The best students are by definition those
who by the date of their application have the best academic records, can
score the highest scores on entrance examinations, and can command the most
laudatory letters of recommendation.
Financial aid is reserved only for the best students, since the limited
funds available cannot be used except to increase the potential greatness
of the university through its student body. Individual faculty will accept
into their research programs only the best students, because if they don't,
their own personal greatness and their ability to obtain support for their
research will suffer. There is a temptation, resisted of course by the more
conscientious faculty, to exploit students, with less concern for their
personal and professional development and more concern for their publically
perceived impact on the professors, their departments, and the university.
3. Measure Personal Success by Maturation of Students
When are professors successful? Ideally, so goes the traditional response
guiding our friend Jack Challenge, this happens as they watch the maturing
of their students, not only in their technical skills but also in their
personal understanding and evaluation of life. This is a goal that any Christian
faculty member would seek after.
Again, there are a number of temptations and pitfalls in the real world
that complicate the situation. The world always misunderstands "success."
This is so universally true that a new definition of success for Christians
is essential. In everyday life, a person is judged successful according
to the number and financial value of the things that he has. In a
Christian perspective, on the other hand, a person is judged successful
in terms of what kind of person he is.
The science professor is commonly judged successful if his name appears
on a large number of scientific publications that others believe to be significant,
if he is able to obtain financial support for large research programs and
for the purchase of major capital equipment, if his research group is large
and includes a number of post-doctoral fellows, if he graduates large numbers
of Ph.D.'s, if he and his name are recognized by his colleagues around the
world as being a leader in his field, if he is the recipient of professional
prizes and awards, if he is elected to prestigious professional honorary
societies, and if his students replicate or exceed his record.
These are indeed hallmarks of some aspects of success of the faculty member,
but they make no specific mention whatsoever of the students involved, and
the effects of their experience with the professor on their development
and maturing. Do they have a sound understanding of their discipline, not
only in the limited sense of the technical aspects themselves, but in the
larger sense of their relationship to other dimensions of life? Are they
better persons, as well as trained scientists or engineers, or are they
committed to the same limited criteria of success that governs so much of
Common criteria for the success of a professor in "turning out"
students once again follow the guidelines of business: how many jobs are
offered to each of his graduates, and how large are their starting salaries?
It is often said, with a somewhat different thrust in mind, to be sure,
that "Students are our product." This can mean that students are
little more than commodities to be recruited, refined, marketed, and merchandised.
They enter as "raw material" and can command a larger salary when
they leave because of the educational "value added."
It requires conscious and continued effort on the part of a Christian faculty
member to avoid these kinds of extremes.
4. Participate in a Community Dedicated to Truth
There is admittedly a wide spectrum of approaches in the different branches
of science and engineering. At one end of the spectrum is the search for
descriptions of the natural world that are widely relevant and allow predictions
of new properties not previously known or understood; this is what is commonly
meant when speaking of the search for "scientific truth." At the
other end of the spectrum is the attempt to derive short-term practical
applications suitable for rapid commercialization. The trend with the passage
of time seems to be to place more emphasis on the latter of these approaches
and less on the former; we will say more about this aspect later.
Between the two extremes, however, lies the ordinary career world of scientists
and engineers, in which personal success and recognition often dominate
any considerations of "scientific truth." Any observant person
engaged in science quickly recognizes the fiction of "total objectivity"
which is often claimed for science and its practitioners. Scientists are
human beings engaged in a human activity. All knowledge is partial and intimately
related to fundamental faith commitments of the individual. Science provides
us only with partial insights into part of physical reality.
What scientists are and what they do is characterized by the same attributes
that mark all of human activity. When the best attributes dominate, scientists
do engage in an exciting quest for understanding, and engineers do engage
in a thrilling search for applications. But in the ordinary course of life,
the young faculty member will almost certainly find himself immersed in
personal rivalries, academic and professional politics, and viewpoints that
are basically culturally determined and are not as open as is ideally held.
He will find himself torn between the mad scramble for professional recognition
on the one hand, and the equally mad scramble for practical results on the
other. He will often be unable to pursue "the truth" in any other
way than is defined by his own quest for career success and the demands
of those supplying the funding for his research.
5. Do Research
Why else would a person become a research science professor except to actively
participate in research?
It cannot fail to come as some kind of shock, therefore, to realize that
a professor's time available for actual, hands-on, in- laboratory research
is severely limited, usually shrinking from a few hours per week during
the early stages of a growing research program to none within a few years.
This does not mean that the professor stops being involved with research,
but that the real demands on his time (assuming that he also has some life
outside the university walls) force him to carry out this involvement in
a vicarious way through review and advising sessions with his graduate students
rather than in a direct way in the laboratory. This vicarious participation
mode is hastened by the realization that the research equipment must become
"the student's" and no longer be "the professor's,"
if the student is to mature in his scientific life.
Of perhaps even more importance, however, is the fact that the funding and
paperwork associated with research is so time-consuming that, coupled with
other obligations of the conscientious faculty member to his teaching, department
and university committees, and professional community beyond the university
(not to mention the obligations of the faculty member as a member of a family,
community, or church), virtually no time for direct research is left.
The doing of research requires money for graduate students' stipends, technical
services, many miscellaneous expenses associated with the doing of the research,
and the increasingly expensive capital equipment required to do modern research.
The university itself provides none of this support. In most countries
of the world, appointment to the rank of Professor (or its equivalent) carries
with it a basic funding for research at a modest level; if the Professor
desires a larger research program, then he must find support from government
The United State is almost unique in having a university program in which
senior rank faculty are provided with absolutely no research support of
any kind. Faculty in the United States must find all their support from
government agencies or interested industries.
The individual who commits himself to a career as a research professor is
therefore committing himself to an unending effort to obtain, renew, and
maintain financial support. While intending to have a career in the doing
of science or engineering, the professor finds that he must become an in-house
entrepreneur in order to carry out any research. The university does supply
the buildings, the electricity, etc. needed for the research; but for this
participation, the university charges the individual's research contract
with an overhead percentage, which typically doubles the amount that the
professor must obtain to carry out his research (i.e., if he needs $100,000
per year for the actual expenses of research, he must obtain $200,000 per
One way that this financial support is obtained by the individual professor
(or small group of professors) is by writing and submitting proposals for
research to various government agencies or industrial companies. Often it
is necessary to spend time travelling to the various agency or industry
headquarters to meet personally with representatives and increase the probability
of proposal acceptance. Such proposals usually experience a fairly small
acceptance rate, which means that many proposals must be prepared and executed
for each program that is actually funded.
Once a program has been funded, then regular reports must be written to
describe the progress, regular meetings must be attended to report on the
progress, and care must be taken that the funding agency receives due credit
in all publications and public news items. The frequency of required written
reports ranges from once a year to once a month.
Usually research funding by government agencies is directed toward long-term
developments, although there are certainly striking examples of focus on
near-future success by government agencies. But research funding by industrial
companies is, almost by its very nature, focussed on the near-future solution
of problems of concern to the company and to the development of prototype
products suitable for commercialization. Failure to meet these short-term
goals, even if the research is successful in providing insights into fundamental
understanding, is usually cause for discontinuation by the industry.
In many ways, therefore, the young person aspiring to be a science professor
must exchange a self-image as a white-coated experimenter with chemicals
and electronics for one as a least part-time business executive or fund-raiser.
6. Pursue Problems of Personal Interest and Importance
True or False: Being a science professor provides the opportunity
to carry out research programs in areas of personal interest and importance
to the professor, chosen to provide the best framework within which to help
his students to grow. Not necessarily true.
Once again, the fact of the matter is that research can be carried out only
if financial funding for the research can be obtained. Government agencies
and industrial companies have their own agenda of priorities. Science professors
work in areas that the government agencies or industries are willing to
support; by definition they do not work in other areas. In order to be successful
they must follow the research dollar.
Now it is true that within the areas supported by government or industry
there is a range of possible problems, and science professors do have the
freedom to submit proposals in areas they consider interesting and important,
as well as being suitable for the developing of their graduate students,
and to ignore others. The downside of the picture is that this freedom is
often severely limited. In recent years the portion of the research budget
funded for military applications has grown rapidly, while at the same time
the budget for non-military applications has shrunk.
In no area of unquestioned vital importance for the future of this country
and the whole world are the limitations imposed by funding agencies more
obvious than in the area of alternative energy sources. Sources of support
for research in these areas has decreased year by year as the temporary
relief from apparent energy shortage misleads many into believing that there
are no serious problems, even though environmental concerns daily grow in
the background. Can a science or engineering professor today obtain major
financial support for a research program in alternative energy sources?
It is at best very difficult.
The development of students demands the kind of project in which they can
explore the scientific and engineering dimensions of a problem over a several
year span, asking and answering questions of a fairly fundamental nature.
But if support for the research is obtained from an industrial source, it
is much more likely that the program will be fashioned to deal with the
solution of pressing problems, while relegating more fundamental investigations
to a much lower priority. If a science professor has the opportunity to
obtain industrial support for a project in which his students will essentially
play the role of industrial technicians, should he accept the support? Even
if the subject is important and the problem timely, will it provide the
environment suitable for the growth in knowledge and experience of his students?
If this is the only support available, dare a professor turn it down?
7. Enjoy the Seclusion of "The Ivory Tower"
Can the science or engineering professor at a major research university
still continue to think of the academic joys of release from the constraints
of the immediately practical demands of the society around, or has that
escape become almost a total fiction?
Someone sketching the ideal day of the ideal science professor might imagine
that he spends his time in actual laboratory research, in reflection on
scientific or engineering problems, on the analysis of such problems and
the design of future experiments, on teaching his students both by lecture
and by example through experience, and perhaps in some involvement with
the academic aspects of university life in general.
The actual day of the science or engineering professor diverges further
and further from this ideal. While some elements of the above picture of
course persist, they must be carefully protected and preserved, or else
they will be increasingly crowded out by the need to be absorbed in what
can only be described as advertising, marketing, and public relations. Far
from being insulated from the practical world around, the professor is in
daily interaction with that world and its demands in order to keep his program,
department, school, and university competitive with others.
The naive non-academic might conclude that the funds required to run a department
and a program within a department (except for the funds needed for research
as discussed above) come from the university with its resources derived
from tuition, fees, endowments, and overhead charges. But increasing competition
between universities, a growing administrative hierarchy, and the need to
"build or perish," cause the university to put more and more financial
burdens directly on the departments themselves.
Usually the university supplies faculty salaries (although in many institutions
science and engineering faculty are required to pay a portion of their salary
from research), a portion of the salaries for administrative support staff,
and a small amount for daily operation of the department--but nothing else.
Few departments are able to operate successfully as far as teaching and
resources are concerned, not to mention the acquisition of capital equipment,
on the funds supplied by the university. They are forced to come up with
money-raising schemes of their own through the participation of the faculty.
Major efforts are made at enticing industries and occasionally individuals
to give financial gifts to the department to meet its direct needs in competition
with other departments at other universities around the country.
This is hardly the kind of environment that life in an "Ivory Tower"
conjures up. Whether or not it is "bad," might be debated, but
it is undebatable that it is different from the concept that most young
people hold with regard to the duties and functions of a science or engineering
8. Have Time to Think
Many view academic life as a quiet retreat, with many hours for reflection
and thought, providing the opportunity for the development of creative ideas
that demand that kind of uninterrupted cogitation. As a matter of fact,
if a science professor requires "time to think" today, he is more
likely to get as far off campus as possible.
While on campus he is likely to find himself spending a good deal of his
time scrambling to meet administrative details imposed upon him: filling
out and submitting forms, writing reports on his academic profess, responding
to live or recorded telephone messages or to electronic mail, drafting documents
for department use, attending administrative meetings of one type or another,
meeting with visitors to the department, meeting with students who are on
campus to see if they wish to apply for graduate study, etc. And all of
these are in addition to the normal daily needs for the preparation of lectures,
problem sets, examinations, problem set answer sheets, responding to the
questions of students in his course(s), and keeping up with the exploding
literature in his field.
9. Be Absorbed in Scholarly Pursuits
Certainly an academic might expect to be involved primarily or almost exclusively
in academic pursuits, and a scholar in scholarly pursuits. But this is not
necessarily the case for the research science professor in major universities
today. As we have already mentioned above, the life of the science professor
today is packed with committee meetings, management decisions, personnel
problems, intradepartmental and interdepartmental politics, attention to
the business aspects of running and maintaining a research program, involvement
in the construction planning of new buildings and new laboratories and responding
to an ever-increasing and time-consuming set of rules and regulations for
We have said enough about most of these concerns already. Typical of the
growing administrative demands is that of laboratory safety. No one would
advocate unsafe experimental environments or careless attitudes toward safety
issues, but few would be prepared for the explosion of safety issues and
their demands on time today. Safety seems to be one of those issues that
is extremely susceptible to bureaucratization once genuine needs are recognized
and institutionalized methods of dealing with them are put into place. It
is also true that a growing proportion of scientific research appears to
involve greater and greater safety hazards, so that what would properly
be handled previously on a local level with a little more than common sense,
now demands large financial inputs, elaborate records, defined protocols,
and essentially daily attention. Safety Committees, safety courses, and
Safety Officers have suddenly appeared on major campuses. All of these require
the time of faculty in serving on committees, making sure that recommendations
are followed, and overcoming the high hurdles toward research funding sometimes
posed by institutionalized conscientious concern for safety.
10. One-on-One Student-Faculty Relationships
Of course faculty members can creatively make available opportunities for
one-on-one personal interactions with those graduate students working directly
with them. But trends in research are making this harder, as small groups
of graduate students doing research under the direction of a particular
faculty member are replaced by considerably larger groups of graduate students
doing research as part of a group of several faculty members. In the not-
too-distant past, published papers seldom carried the names of more than
one or two authors, the student and professor's in the case of academic
research, but now it is not uncommon to find papers with as many as twenty
Several factors are driving this movement toward research by larger groups.
One of them that has been active now for half a century is the growing complexity
and expense of much research equipment. When each researcher could afford
to build, or buy, and to maintain his own equipment, then he could essentially
operate independently if he so chose. But when "ordinary" equipment
such as electron microscopes, molecular beam evaporators, and surface analysis
systems cost upwards of a million dollars, not to mention the major installations
of nuclear research that cost billions of dollars, individuals have to form
large teams in order to be able to afford the equipment and its maintenance,
and then to put the equipment to enough use to justify its acquisition in
the first place.
It is also true that problems are becoming more complex, with aspects that
require inputs from a number of the classical scientific disciplines. Research
teams in industry have been common for many years, and today we see research
teams being much more common in university research.
All of these developments have their advantages, but they also have the
definite disadvantage of tending to turn the academic student- professor
relationship into something more like that commonly encountered in large
corporate or government laboratories. A professor who believes it important
to retain dimensions of the one- on-one relationship needs to work at providing
the special circumstances that will allow it.
There is no doubt that being on the faculty at a major research university
can be an exciting and rewarding activity. Most of those participating on
science and engineering faculties would not willingly become involved in
any other activity, in spite of the changing tempo and style of academic
life. There are unique freedoms of time and effort that are usually not
present in a non-academic environment. There are many opportunities for
Christian faculty to witness through profession, lifestyle, and personal
communication to a group of bright, young people who will play leading roles
in tomorrow's society, to their colleagues, and to society in general.
The purpose of this paper, therefore, has not been discourage those who
are called by God to be involved in this kind of a career. Rather, it has
been to provide insight into how different things may be from what has been
ideally taught, and into what may be realistically expected as the characteristics
of life on the science or engineering faculty of a major research university.
A second, and very important, purpose is to call those of us in science
and engineering to become more aware of the roles we are playing in our
professional careers, to reassess them periodically to see if we have the
assurance of being in the center of God's will for us, and to help shape
developments so that the truly beneficial and important relationships of
academic life are preserved in the midst of changing patterns.
There are few greater challenges than for a Christian faculty member to
stand gently firm for Christ in the midst of a secular campus. Among colleagues
whose academic achievements are an almost impenetrable insulation against
the message of the Gospel, he lives daily to be heard and known as a person
of integrity and intellectual responsibility, who can be trusted in professional
and personal matters, but who calls colleagues and students alike to a higher
relationship and a more encompassing good. There are few greater challenges--but
there are few greater opportunities.
Many of the other chores associated with teaching large classes
or with the time-consuming tasks of laboratory development and management
regularly fall to the young faculty member seeking tenure.
The desire of a faculty member to help underdeveloped or underprivileged
students to develop into mature people and scientists or engineers, meets
with great barriers in spite of sincere programs of Affirmative Action.
The world always misunderstands "success." This is
so universally true that a new definition for Christians is essential.
In the ordinary course of life, the young faculty member will
almost certainly find himself immersed in personal rivalries, academic and
professional politics, and viewpoints that are basically culturally determined
and are not as open as is ideally held.
The United States is almost unique in having a university program
in which senior rank faculty are provided with absolutely no research support
of any kind.
Research funding by industrial companies is, almost by its very
nature, focussed on the near-future solution of problems of concern to the
company and to the development of prototype products suitable for commercialization.
In recent years the portion of the research budget funded for
military applications has grown rapidly, while at the same time the budget
funded for non-military applications has shrunk.
Far from being insulated from the practical world around, the
professor is in daily interaction with that world and its demands in order
to keep his program, department, school, and university competitive with
Few departments are able to operate successfully as far as teaching
and resources are concerned, not to mention the acquisition of capital equipment,
on the funds supplied by the university.
If a science professor requires "time to think" today,
he is more likely to get as far off campus as possible.
Typical of the growing administrative demands is that of laboratory
Research teams in industry have been common for many years,
and today we see research teams being much more common in university research.
Richard H. Bube received a Ph.D. degree in Physics from Princeton University.
From 1948-1962 he was on the technical staff of the RCA Laboratories in
Princeton, New Jersey, and since 1962 he has been on the faculty of Stanford
University as Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering.
From 1975-1986 he served as Chair of the Department of Materials Science
and Engineering. Dr. Bube is the author of books both on photoelectronic
materials and devices, and on the interaction between science and Christian
faith. From 1969-1983 he served as Editor of the Journal of the American
Scientific Affiliation. He has been a speaker on science and Christianity
on many college and university campuses.