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November 11, 2011 AT 9:48 am

Taken for Granted: Getting to Aaahhh! – Science Careers

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Taken for Granted: Getting to Aaahhh! @ Science Careers.

The hardest challenge Jeff Cruzan ever faced wasn’t earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. Nor was it his postdoc years at Harvard Medical School, doing molecular biology research that led to three papers in Science. Cruzan’s hardest challenge was meeting the expectations of students at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston, Massachusetts, during the very challenging first year of his new career as a science and math teacher.

…Teaching is not a career for everyone, Cruzan believes, but it can deeply satisfy those well suited to it. “I feel like I can help” the students, he says. “You can’t preach to them, but I think I can give them some perspective, which is hard for them to have” at their age. “If they screw up they think it’s the end of the world, that they’re the first one that’s ever done this. But I think you can get them excited.”

Cruzan fondly remembers the intellectual stimulation and challenge of his work in the lab. But that satisfaction has since been replaced by another, he says. “I love the feeling of being able to craft a succinct explanation, so that [students] say, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ ”

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