What do whale-faeces researchers, hazmat divers and employees of Microsoft's Security Response Centre have in common? They all made Popular Science magazine's 2007 issue of the absolute worst jobs in science.
Popular Science has been compiling the list since 2003, as "a way to celebrate the crazy variety of jobs that there are in science," said Michael Moyer, the magazine's executive editor. Past entrants have included barnyard masturbator, Kansas biology teacher and US Metric system advocate.
Moyer said Microsoft's Security Response Centre (MSRC) made the grade this year because the job is just so hard and thankless. "It's one of those classic jobs, which isn't gross or dangerous in any way, but the overwhelmingness of the task at hand makes it so daunting that only the most intrepid would venture there."
The MSRC ranks as the sixth-worst job in this year's list, published in the July issue of the magazine. "We did rate the Microsoft security researcher as less-bad than the people who prepare the carcasses for dissection in biology laboratories," Moyer said.
The absolute worst job? Hazmat diver. "These are highly trained individuals who strap on scuba gear and dive into toxic sludge," Moyer explained.
Microsoft's Mark Griesi considers ranking among the worst as a badge of honour, in part because his grandfather read the story and thought it was "pretty cool to see my team on the list," he said via e-mail.
Working at the response centre "is one of the toughest jobs to have," said Griesi, a program manager with the MSRC. "But with tough challenges come great reward. The article does call out the dedication that the people in all of these jobs have and I have never worked with a more dedicated group then the MSRC."
Still, the MSRC is not for everyone. Moyer didn't have to think long when asked whether he'd rather have the number 10-ranked whale research job. "Whale faeces or working at Microsoft? I would probably be the whale faeces researcher," he said. "Salt air and whale flatulence; what could go wrong?"
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