I am not far away from finishing a PhD in molecular toxicology. However, with time I have gotten more and more interested in topics such as renewable energy, environmental/climate science and engineering. My education so far is not completely alien to environmental science, but my background heavily oriented towards molecular biology so I lack basic knowledge about things relating to renewables, climate systems and field work. Another big factor is that non-academic jobs in my current field do not interest me at all.

What would be the best route for me if I wanted to move towards these fields? Get a new master's or try to land post-docs incrementally closer to where I want to be?

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    A PhD is the final and last step of your education. Starting another degree is a step backwards. You are getting too old for these. Your skills should work well for the field that interests you. You don't need more formal education.
    – user9482
    Mar 27, 2021 at 16:23
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    Best of luck! Most of us find hitting the reset button, to one degree or another, necessary. That’s not to say the outcome will be what you anticipate. I can’t concur with the previous comment. I find a PhD a sort of preparation for the real education of one’s life. Mar 27, 2021 at 17:19
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    Yes- look for groups that are doing toxicology work with the EPA as a first step into a more environmental zone. Then proceed from there to an even more environmental focused project.
    – Dawn
    Apr 27, 2021 at 14:42
  • Toxicology is extremely important to renewable energy. You might look into positions studying solar cell disposal/recycling. Perhaps some catalysis or battery projects would suit you, too. Jan 22, 2022 at 23:27

2 Answers 2


I don't expect this to be the best answer (I am not from these fields), however what I'd do in your place would be researching websites of environmental science departments and research groups in order to find some topics/projects for which your qualification up to now makes some sense or adds some relevant competence. There even may be postdoc positions, however maybe you can ask for some project or internship work. Maybe also there are some biologically oriented temporary teaching jobs in such departments, which could enable you to get into the community.

In the meantime try to read and learn, and try to get into contact with people. I can't guarantee it of course but sometimes opportunities open up when looking for them in a determined way. And surely try to make use of your already achieved qualifications, try to connect things somehow.


There are people who get a masters degree in other fields after getting a similar (or higher) degree in another. However, I don't think you are in a field so far away that this is necessary. I think you can leverage your knowledge of chemistry to work for you in these other fields that you mention. So perhaps your "incremental" stepping towards that is the way that I would go, but don't shoot for too small a change, if it isn't what you want. You (likely) have the skills to learn complicated things very quickly, so you can probably make bigger leaps than you give yourself credit for. My advice is to apply for the jobs you want - the jobs (e.g. postdocs, etc.) you are passionate about - and see what happens. Of course you need to be reasonable with qualifications, etc. (so that you aren't wasting your own and others' time), but I think often people are looking for particular skills over particular domain knowledge, but perhaps this is just my field...

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