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From Researcher to Distiller and Grocer

Competition for grants is fierce, and that encourages those seeking funding to play it safe.

"You have to actually be much more conservative these days than you used to," Ian Glomsky tells NPR's Richard Harris. "And being that conservative, I think, ultimately hurts the scientific enterprise because everybody's basically trying to be so conservative — to do things that ought to work or things that are expected to work, that you're losing out on the cutting-edge research that really is what pushes science forward."

Because of what NPR calls the "dreary career" Glomsky saw stretching out before him in which he would focus on what would get funded rather than what excited him, Glomsky is no longer studying anthrax, but is opening his own distillery.

Similarly, NPR speaks with Randen Patterson, a researcher who worked on computer simulations of chemical reactions within cells and who now owns a corner shop, though he does some research on the side.

"When I was a very young scientist I told myself I would only work on the hardest questions because those were the ones that were worth working on," Patterson adds. "And it has been to my advantage and my detriment."