Book review – So you want to be a Neuroscientist? by Dr Ashley Juavinett

In reading this book I found a tour through the life I had lead over the past eight years.

ashley juavinett

Photography by Aimee Westcott

This book highlights the key decisions that a neuroscientist has to make, what university, what programs to approach but provides important insights that neuroscientists come in many shapes and sizes and it is not only a prescriptive psychology undergraduate degree to neuroscience masters that will be accepted into the ranks of neuroscientists around the world.

This book is relatively short and very easy to read. I breezed through it in a couple of days not only because I was by extension reading my life’s story through someone else’s words but because Dr. Juavinett writes in an approachable and friendly way. You are reading a book written by a real human, not an amalgamated collection of wisdom made by a committee that doesn’t ever gel together. Its brevity is also not a point against it, over the 250 pages of the main body of text the world of neuroscience is presented. Ultimately though the author is honest with what a graduate school application looks like or how a Ph.D. defense is laid out. There is no step-by-step guide, nor advice for the reader individually because those are decisions you have to make for yourself, and here that respect is given to you.

Upon finishing this book I see it as a road map, it will tell you where to start, where the interesting stops are, and which roads are more dangerous to travel but day to day a map cannot tell you how to live your life. This book does not attempt that either, it is there to inspire, advise and at times protect all the while written with an implicit excitement about what the future of any given reader could lead to and the scientific career before them.

If you are considering a career in neuroscientist and find the world in front of you bewildering with too many choices I recommend this book as a guide, to structure your thoughts and plans before you begin. Also to those who are neuroscientists in research and outside I would also advise this book not as a guide but more as a moment of reflection. The chapters of this book will mirror the chapters of your lives like they did mine and while it will offer no direct advice for the future. Instead, I suggest taking stock of one’s past can be very useful for deciding what lies next and if goals and aims you once had are now lost.