The future of taxonomic expertise in Europe

Thomas Schlemmermeyer termites at USP.BR
Wed Feb 2 09:14:56 CST 2000

Geneticists usually feel so proud of themselves, because they study the
processes that drive our organisms.
Thus, they use to recommend not to specialise on a strictly taxonomic career,
but search for a broader and more process orientated field of research.

I wonder, however, to what degree such a broadly orientated career is really
possible. Taxonomy is delicate field that even if it does not provide insights
into new processes is difficult to keep up with steadily. There are so many
things not to lose sight of.


On (         Wed, 2 Feb 2000 12:51:03 +0200),         "Prof. Dov Por"
<dovpor at NETVISION.NET.IL> wrote:

>This seems to be a world-wide phenomenon. Young students, educated at
>college level to  care for and study biodiversity find closed doors when
>they  want to specialise. At my university a genetics professor used to say
>to the freshmen:'Look how many Nobels in genetics, taxonomy does not  exist
>as a real scientific career".
>The problem has to be treated at the roots.
>Dov Por
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Stephan Helfer <S.Helfer at RBGE.ORG.UK>
>Date: 02 February 2000 12:20
>Subject: Re: The future of taxonomic expertise in Europe
>>Dear Professor Enghoff, TAXACOMers
>>The initiative you posted in TAXACOM to promote the education of
>>young taxonomists is laudable indeed. However, in my opinion the
>>recruitment problem for young taxonomists does not start at the post-
>>doctoral level. Very little plant taxonomy is taught in British
>>(and I suspect other European) Universities at under-graduate level,
>>and the number of taught post-graduate courses can be counted on one
>>hand. I guess the situation is not very different in zoology. One of
>>the botany courses in Britain is the Edinburgh MSc/Diploma course in
>>"The Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants"
>>( Recruiting problems for these
>>courses are not normally caused by lack of interest, insufficient
>>qualification or poor job prospects, but plainly by the lack of
>>funding for prospective students. For last year's twelve places, the
>>course in Edinburgh registered applications from ca. 25 well
>>qualified students (including around ten from overseas), only seven
>>of whom could afford to start the course. In previous years the
>>situation was similar. I understand that a similar course at Reading
>>University encounters the same problems.
>>I therefore suggest that CETAF, and others concerned about the future
>>of taxonomy, should consider to increase support for education and
>>training in taxonomy at graduate level, whilst continuing to
>>encourage post-doctoral fellowships.
>>Dr Stephan Helfer, SSO
>>Senior Mycologist - MSc Course Director
>>Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Inverleith Row, EDINBURGH EH3 5LR,
>>Scotland UK
>>phone: +44 (0)131 248 2865 (direct digital line)
>>fax:   +44 (0)131 248 2901

Thomas Schlemmermeyer
Museu de Zoologia, Universidade de São Paulo
Caixa Postal 42694
CEP 04299-970
São Paulo, SP, Brasil

Thomas Schlemmermeyer
Caixa Postal 00276
CEP 14001-970
Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brasil

Fone, Fax: 016 6371999

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