Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tox Talks

Many (used to) ask me what I do for a living. I used to be a toxicologist by education and training before I decided to experiment a little and join grad school. Now being a toxicologist is not an easy job. First, you need to deal with a deep and profound understanding of the nature of cells and toxins and the way either interact to cause cellular injury. Then you have to deal with the knowledge that most people around you are not going to understand beans about what you do for a living.

Not that I am offended or am hurt, but it is interesting to observe consistent behavioral patterns amongst people who are told I am a toxicologist.

A tox what?


Understandable, given that we mostly hear of doctors who operate, computer engineers who code (yes that’s as much I understand of comp engineers as they understand of my field), architects who design and build, and so on. Managers. Singers. Interior designers. Journalists. Those are the words we have grown up hearing.

But definitely not a toxicologist.

The situation is different when I am hanging out with my colleagues and professors and professional peers. I am the one then, groping to understand the stuff they do, the big words they throw at me.

I’ve of course had hilarious responses from people.

So do you examine snake venom?

So is global warming going to destroy the world?

So do you design toxins?


I enjoy the responses and the blank looks I get most of the time. No matter how mundane a job I do for a living, I can always make the word look fancy and give a bunch of ideas that makes people think I do something cool.

Forensic science? Criminal investigation? An Erin Brockovich in the making?

Anyway, I am glad that I do something that isn’t understood by many. That way, the toxicologist can finally talk.



The Wandering Minstrel said...

wow. ur a toxicologist. :) *complete understanding*

Rachna said...

Wow! And I thought I was one Indian who was not the usual engineer/ coder.
I'm an architect :)

Richa said...

Cool job!

I understand the blank looks you are talking about. I am a Geophysicist. Another branch not many people understand. At the most, they might have heard of Geology. And the moment I tell them that I work in oil exploration, all weird kind of questions come floating in.

So do you drill using the drills? You don't look that strong. (umm, yeah I said I explore not drill!)

So what's the difference between the three kind of gasoline we get in petrol pumps? Will it make a difference if I use the cheapest kind? (Explore people, not refine or sell)

and others...may be I should do a post about it :D

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

LOL @ Richa's comment!!!!

sunshine said...

The Wandering Minstrel- LOL !!!

Rachna- hehe

Richa- I'd absolutely love to read your post about it :)

TGFI- LOL indeed !!!! :)