Thought I’d create a topic for physical scientists and engineers to introduce themselves, as this forum seems to be populated by mainly social scientists.
I’m Ben Trettel. I’d consider myself a theoretical fluid dynamicist, though I’m also interested in improving the quality of research in the physical sciences in general (“verification and validation” to use the US Department of Energy’s terminology). I’m almost done a PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
After graduating next year I’m going to start a small research company and fund my research through a combination of sources, likely including small grants, SaaS businesses, and consulting.
What motivates me to become an independent researcher is that doing the research I’d find valuable is hard or even impossible in academia, government, and industry. As an engineer, I have more options than many do, but more bad options isn’t much of a choice. The research jobs available to me either work on subjects I don’t find valuable (e.g., nuclear weapons), practically force me to do bad research (publish or perish, etc.), make essentially all my work owned by my employer (including much work done on my own time), or a combination of the mentioned.