The cross-pollination that naturally occurs when people move along a diverse career path is of great benefit to the areas they find themselves in. This was emphasized during my early training as a physicist, with researchers moving back and forth between academic and industry jobs. However when I continued on to study astrophysics, I found that there wasn’t an obvious path for such cross-pollination. This is one of the reasons I left that field as a post-doc.
In the below recent TED talk, a fellow astrophysicist describes how she manages to find this cross-pollination, and to apply her data analysis skills to solve, not only mysteries of the universe, but more local urban and social problems as well.