These are the BEST Christmas, holiday, or birthday gifts for the special biologist in your life! Or those who live like biologists and field scientists and spend their time exploring the natural world. This is geared towards people who are in the field, travelling, and hiking for most of their days. I find most of the scientist gift lists I’ve seen out there are focused around gag gifts or novelty mugs for scientists – here’s what they will ACTUALLY use and appreciate without creating unnecessary junk that will end up in a landfill. Or, if you are a scientist and want to treat yourself to a gift - check this list out!
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1. LUXURY COFFEE SETUP
Working in the field means a lot of early mornings – if you are birding in the summer, this can mean waking up at 3 am to travel out to site to catch “bird prime time”. A great espresso machine or coffee maker can be a lifesaver to those of us who rely on being awake and alert in the wee hours of the morning. This is the one that I have used for the last 5 years and I highly recommend it – it’s hardy but surprisingly affordable for an espresso machine.
Other options: Aeropress! The bonus of this one is you can take it with you into the field.
2. NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
This item has been my favorite Christmas present I’ve ever received. These are an absolute lifesaver in the lab, office, and as a frequent flyer. I’m wearing them right now actually! As an added plus, for scientists who work with audio files (like recorded bird calls), they can really improve the quality of sound that you’re hearing.
3. LIFEPROOF PHONE CASE
I have dropped a total of two valuable items in wetland marshes. A waterproof, drop-proof case is essential when you’re in the field facing the elements. I would recommend the waterproof ones for field biologists as we’re often in a lot of messy, muddy situations that normal phone cases can’t stand up to.
4. FIELD BAG
All scientists need a good field bag. Typical options are a big duffel for travel and a nice backpack for actually hiking around at work. This also isn’t usually provided by an employer so it’s great gift for a new scientist who just graduated from university and is ready to hit the field. If large equipment like hand shovels are required, a large duffel may be necessary.
5. ZERO WASTE TRAVEL KIT
Anyone who travels away from home frequently is often disgusted by the amount of trash generated by buying single-use versions of things or showing up to the hotel breakfast bar and only seeing paper plates and plastic utensils. As scientists, we’re supposed to be role models! Gifting a zero waste kit that fits in a suitcase is a great idea for eco-friendly travellers.
6. LASER POINTER
Scientists often have to give presentations, research talks, or teach classes at some point in their career. A laser pointer is one of the things that can save your life during a presentation so you’re not trying to point at your screen with your fingers while trying to remember the scientific name for a bobcat.
7. LUNCH BAG
Field biologists can work 12 hour shifts where we eat a quick lunch between surveys in our truck, off-road vehicle, or while sitting on a stump at our field site. A great lunch bag is a huge plus so that we can keep our lunches separate from our gross, dirty equipment.
8. GIFT CARDS
I know some people don’t like gifting gift cards, but I live in a different country from my entire family so everyone I know is getting gift cards. Chain coffee places (so you can grab a coffee near your field site) and outdoor retailers are usually my best bet. I would stay away from buying rain gear/clothing for the field as it varies so much on the person and their preferences - instead, get a gift card!
9. SUBSCRIPTION TO AUDIBLE
For the eco-friendly person that doesn’t want any unnecessary junk in their lives, a subscription for audiobooks is a great idea! When in the field, I can spend hours and hours in my truck driving to field sites. The other scientists and I all love listening to an audiobook in the car together and this hobby seems to be shared amongst nearly everyone I’ve worked with.