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There is some suggestion that there's a position of Science Officer aboard starships.

On NCC-1701, this was Spock. On NX-01, this was T'Pol.

But there really isn't such high-ranking position on NCC-1701-D or Voyager.

Memory alpha suggests:

Data was the operations officer of the Enterprise-D and was only referred to as "science officer" once. It is likely that he was acting in that position, as Swenson was mentioned to be the science officer.

And for Voyager, Memory alpha lists Samantha Wildman. Clearly to me the intent here is that she is a science office, but not The Science Office.

So, in the TNG era, for Enterprise and Voyage, we have no prominent position routinely mentioned called Science Officer.

Yet, for DS9, Lieutenant Dax occupies the position of Science Officer. However, before the discovery of the wormhole, DS9 was just a station in orbit around Bajor with need for a Federation presence to show force against the Cardassians. This is just about the least likely place were meaningful science would be performed (vs. starships on exploration missions).

So to distill this down: There is an Executive Staff-level position on DS9 occupied by an officer whose only job is to be Science Officer. This person does not exist in Enterprise-D or Voyager even though they have science as a primary objective, and presumably DS9 doesn't (pre-wormhole).

So why does DS9 have a staff-level Science Officer who has only that role when the two starships of the era (which we know well) don't?

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    Again, a presumption. Because a role is not mentioned, does not mean it does not exist. ALL Federation starships have science officers on them. In the underlying premise of Starfleet as an organization, scientific exploration is job one. This is why Federation ships had extraneous laboratories on them taking up vital space. The underlying premise of the question is flawed. On Voyager, their dedicated science officer's role is minor, not non-existent, since the Captain was a former science officer herself. Astrometrics also lent support (via 7/9) when such work was needed. – Thaddeus Howze Sep 21 '15 at 16:02
  • @Thaddeus: The point is not that they do science on the starships. It's that there is an Executive Staff-level position on DS9 occupied by an officer whose only job is to be Science Officer. This person does not exit in Enterprise-D or Voyager even though they have science as a primary objective, and prseumably DS9 doesn't (pre-wormhole). – ThePopMachine Sep 21 '15 at 16:47
  • This is not a discussion forum. Make your point and move on. In this particular case, you are incorrect, and at least four people have proven and substantiated their information. For me this discussion is dead. I suggest you leave it be as well. Assign whichever of these good people who has answered the question the best and let it go. Good day. – Thaddeus Howze Sep 21 '15 at 16:51
  • Improved the description to hopefully make the question more clear, rather than getting the "well, they do" response. – ThePopMachine Sep 21 '15 at 16:51
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    I think the real question should be WHY DIDN'T DS9 EVER GET A REPLACEMENT Science Officer AFTER DAX? Seriously! I know they were in the middle of a war and all but they're a Star Fleet base on the front lines without a freaking Science Officer! I mean what the hell people?!?! – 22nd Century Fza Sep 22 '15 at 5:34
18

The position of Science Officer is alive and well in the 24th century.

You're implying several things. So I'm going to try and answer the question with some framing.

The question is "Why did DS9 need a science officer?" So first we need to understand what a science officer does.

From Wiki: http://en.memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Science_officer

Generally:

The science officer was the senior staff member aboard a starship or starbase with the broad responsibility of coordinating the science department of the post. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

Science officer was a standard position aboard space vessels. Starfleet, Arkonian, Klingon, Romulan, and Vulcan vessels all operated with science officers. (ENT: "Dawn", "Impulse"; TOS: "Day of the Dove"; TNG: "The Next Phase"; DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire") In the Vulcan High Command, the science officer was assisted by a deputy science officer. (ENT: "Impulse") In Starfleet, several junior science officers assisted the science officer. (VOY: "Flashback")

Responsibilities(defined prior to the 24th century):

Science officers were responsible for observing and theorizing explanations for strange or seemingly unexplainable circumstances. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain") In the 22nd and 23rd centuries, the science officer was responsible for sensor readings. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun")

A general survey party required the direction of the science officer. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer") In a medical emergency, the findings of the science officer were heavily relied upon. (ENT: "Observer Effect")

The science officer was required to keep sufficient data. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome") They were also required to supply the commanding officer with all reports, observations, and speculations that might have affected the safety of their vessel. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

You mention in your question that in the 24th century Voyager and the Enterprise-D have no science officer, "...there really isn't such high-ranking position on NCC-1701-D or Voyager." I think your confusion may be that an officer can and in this case does hold two prominent positions, they are not mutually exclusive.

On a starship, science officer duties could be assumed as part of a senior officer's other duties.

Data served as both science officer and operations manager on the USS Enterprise-D
Spock served as both science officer and first officer on the USS Enterprise.

In 2270, James T. Kirk considered Commander Spock to be the best science officer in Starfleet. (TAS: "The Jihad")

So the best example based on your question from the 22nd century would be Spock. Spock was first officer as well as science officer. Data was operations officer as well as science officer.

In addition on TNG there are other mentions of a science officer:

In 2368, Captain Jean-Luc Picard honorably made Jay Gordon Graas an acting science officer during a ship-wide emergency. (TNG: "Disaster")

In 2369, acting Captain Beverly Crusher briefly assigned Ensign Taitt as the science officer aboard the bridge. (TNG: "Descent")

So we see from TNG that the concept of a science officer was alive and well but Data had that firmly in hand. Spock is usually referred to as first officer not science officer, which is his more senior title. Data was the second officer and operations officer which were both more "senior" (for lack of a better term) titles. Also with the exception of Doctor or occupational titles (Counselor Troi) usually the rank was used on the Enterprise-D, ie; Commander Data, Lieutenant LaForge, Ensign Crusher, etc.

As for Voyager I would argue that Janeway herself was acting as science officer due to her knowledge and skillset which was laid out in "Caretaker" as she was referred to having this position on the USS Al-Batani. Later when 7 of 9 arrived she aided in these duties in the Astrometric lab. I would also posit that since Janeway had a short mission that was relegated to only capturing a Maquis ship in the badlands, a military assignment, and not one of exploration, a science officer may not have been assigned as part of the crew compliment.

So why on DS9?

From the 24th century and DS9 specifically:

According to Jadzia Dax, it was a science officer's job to always have a "better idea." (DS9: "Paradise")

Based on the information I supplied of what a science officer does and is, namely, to coordinate the science positions, go over sensor logs, keep data, provide info in medical emergencies, supply theories and provide command officers with information to make informed decisions, that's exactly what Jadzia's role was.

A good example of this is in the DS9 episode "Visionary":

Going over sensor logs:

DAX: I went over the internal sensor logs and I did find evidence of a minor temporal disturbance in Quark's and another one later on the Promenade. Both disturbances happened at about the same time as the Chief's experiences.
SISKO: So it would seem that you did travel into the future and then returned to the same moment that you left. O'BRIEN: Have you any idea what might have caused this time shift?

Providing info in medical emergencies:

DAX: Not yet. I want to go over the medical scans Julian took of you earlier. That dose of ionising radiation you received might have something to do with it. O'BRIEN: How?

Theorizing and providing scientific data to senior officers:

DAX: I'm not sure, but it's a good place to start. I have heard of a couple of theories that ambient low level radiation could have a temporal...

There are many more examples in other episodes of Jadzia fulfilling the duties of science officer, but "visionary" had the complete answer in one episode. If you would like more, comment below and I will provide some more.

The answer is that on a space station the size and importance of DS9, it was necessary to have a science officer aboard to help with any science based issues that may arise.

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    Why would somebody downvote this? lol – JMFB Sep 21 '15 at 18:25
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    Very comprehensive answer; +1 – Often Right Sep 22 '15 at 0:21
  • TY @N_Soong wish others felt the same way, lol. Oh well the satisfaction is in the answer, right Admiral? – JMFB Sep 22 '15 at 4:47
7

If I were to hazard a guess, the position of Science Officer on DS9 may have had, as its primary duty, the study of the Bajoran wormhole between the Alpha Quadrant and the Gamma Quadrant.

  • Prior to the discovery of the wormhole, the Bajoran people were under Cardassian occupation with thousands of years of history largely unknown to the Federation; a history including the existence of the alien Prophets involved in the guiding of said civilization. Starfleet may have jumped at the chance to have a Science Officer assigned to a Federation station near a practically unknown culture, especially as that culture itself would be seeking to rediscover its roots with the reopening of the wormhole. (As noted by Omegacron.)

  • This was one of the only stable, traversable wormholes in the Alpha Quadrant. A rare find which was constantly under surveillance by the Federation. The more they knew about it the better it could be exploited or defended.

  • In addition, said wormhole was filled with trans-temporal beings (called the Prophets by the Bajorans) who had been worshiped by the Bajorans for centuries in the past and had recently begun interacting with the Bajorans again in the modern era.
  • These two things alone made a science officer detachment a worthwhile investment as well as DS9 being a forward operating post on the edge of the Federation. The opportunity to interact with strange or unusual phenomena would certainly warrant the possible inclusion of such a dedicated role.

Given that science officers were a standard complement on Federation ships, it does not seem illogical for one to be assigned to DS9. Memory Alpha confirms this suspicion:

  • The science officer was the senior staff member aboard a starship or starbase with the broad responsibility of coordinating the science department of the post. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")
  • Science officer was a standard position aboard space vessels. Starfleet, Arkonian, Klingon, Romulan, and Vulcan vessels all operated with science officers. (ENT: "Dawn", "Impulse"; TOS: "Day of the Dove"; TNG: "The Next Phase"; DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire")

  • In the Vulcan High Command, the science officer was assisted by a deputy science officer. (ENT: "Impulse") In Starfleet, several junior science officers assisted the science officer. (VOY: "Flashback")

  • In 2270, James T. Kirk considered Commander Spock to be the best science officer in Starfleet. (TAS: "The Jihad")

  • On a starship, science officer duties could be assumed as part of a senior officer's other duties. For example, Data served as both science officer and operations manager on the USS Enterprise-D and Spock served as both science officer and first officer on the USS Enterprise.

The presumption that other ships did not need or use a science officer is not necessary accurate. Because the role wasn't displayed as prominently as it was on the original Enterprise may have had something to do with the quality of Mr. Spock as a unique and highly-qualified individual.

  • Onboard the USS Enterprise D, Commander Data and Officer Swenson were listed as active science officers.

  • While Voyager has no official active duty science officer, Captain Janeway served as its primary scientific officer with previous experience and expertise. Since Janeway was supposedly in a quick and dirty mission into the Badlands, she may have not had time to staff a science officer deeming it less vital due to her own experience.

  • Janeway's first Starfleet posting was aboard the USS Al-Batani under the command of Captain Owen Paris. She served as the science officer during the ship's participation in the Arias Expedition. (VOY: "Caretaker", "Live Fast and Prosper", "Shattered")
  • While as a member of the Voyager crew, Seven of Nine would later provide significant scientific support in the area due to her experience as a member of the Borg Collective and working in the sensor enhanced Astrometrics facility refurbished by her and Harry Kim.
  • And as the question has continued to evolve, it does not change the fact the Space Station NEEDED a science officer because it was on the far edge of Federation space with a galactic government whose para-military arm's (Starfleet) had a mandate of SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION. Is this particular fact hard to follow this morning? Starfleet constantly reminds us they are explorers, gatherers of information about different cultures, ideas and sciences. As far as Starfleet is concerned if there isn't a science officer there, then their primary mandate is NOT being served. – Thaddeus Howze Sep 21 '15 at 16:33
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    Should also keep in mind that Voyager was not crewed for any kind of exploration mission. Its first mission was a rush-job where it would dart out to the Badlands and back. Given Janeway's extensive science background, she may not have felt a Science Officer position was necessary for what was essentially a milk run. – Omegacron Sep 22 '15 at 19:00
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    you may also want to mention that the Bajoran culture - with thousands of years of history - was largely unknown to Federation scientists thanks to the Cardassian Occupation. Starfleet may have jumped at the chance to have a Science Officer assigned to a Federation station in orbit over a practically unknown culture, especially as that culture itself would be seeking to rediscover its roots. – Omegacron Sep 22 '15 at 19:05
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From Memory-Alpha

Science officers were responsible for observing and theorizing explanations for strange or seemingly unexplainable circumstances. In the 22nd and 23rd centuries, the science officer was responsible for sensor readings.

Deep Space 9 was in fact "deep space" for the Federation. Near the badlands, Bashir called it "frontier space." They didn't know what was out there, and so they'd probably want a science officer to assist in the discovery of new planets, lifeforms, and anomalies.

As soon as Dax arrived on the station, Sisko put her in charge of analyzing one of the Orbs the Bajorians had. This lead to the discovery of the wormhole.

I think we can infer that every post has a science officer, because you never know what you are going to run into (even on a space station).

"You got a better idea... ?"
"I'm a science officer. It's my job to have a better idea."
- Kira and Dax

  • "Deep Space" moniker aside, it was in orbit of an uninteresting (from a science point of view) M-class planet with millenia of history. – ThePopMachine Sep 21 '15 at 15:53
  • Re orbs: No one knew about those, or that Starfleet would have access to them, or that there would be any interesting science, at the time the roster for the station was determined. – ThePopMachine Sep 21 '15 at 15:54
  • I'm not saying she was assigned there because of the Orbs. I'm saying they assign science officers everywhere. And hey, this one immediately had things to do! – Jack B Nimble Sep 21 '15 at 15:55
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    In 2372, the location of Bajor was labeled on a tactical cartography map that was displayed in the wardroom of Deep Space 9. The planet was located near the Badlands and the Demilitarized Zone. (DS9: "For the Cause") While it may have been quiet, it was on the edge of a Federation space and again worthy of having a science officer on board. What is your dilemma? Are you staffing for the Federation and there aren't enough science officers to go around? – Thaddeus Howze Sep 21 '15 at 15:58
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    For that matter, even if the post didn't warrant one, Sisko may have specifically REQUESTED Dax as a Science Officer just to get his old friend back around. – Omegacron Sep 22 '15 at 19:02
1

Considering that DS9 (even before the wormhole) was on the fringes of Known Space as far as the federation was concerned, they knew up-front it was likely they'd meet and potentially trade with hitherto unknown species and cultures.

The Science Officer's role is explicitly to be studying the new and unknown, and there is bound to be plenty of new and unknown in a frontier outpost position.

Additionally, the role of the science officer as an "ideas man" seems to be cemented in starfleet culture, It would be entirely in character that in any position with a sufficiently large command structure they'd put people in place whose role is to put forward out-of-the-box thinking and and suggest alternative approaches to ensure the crew don't settle into static modes of thinking.

The role of science officer may also have other duties not related to research and study. I see the Science role as an interdisciplinary one which collaborates with the other roles to extend them from their day-to-day to cope with unique challenges.

For example, if a species shows up that needs particular environmental conditions, the science officer may tag-team with engineering to provide the needed knowledge. If a damaged ship arrives and it's venting plasma, the science officer teams with Ops to organise the damage-control.

Things like that.

  • Jadzia Dax is often seen doing many of these things. I recall Dax being involved in quarter customization for species with unique needs, although I don't recall which episode it was. – Ellesedil Mar 2 '18 at 20:56
  • I'm quite sure I had that in the back of my mind while commenting. I believe it was the episode with the lady who was accustomed to light/zero gravity and had a wheelchair. Melora was the episode – Ruadhan2300 Mar 6 '18 at 10:33
0

Deep Space Nine was on the edge of known space. Everything beyond Bajor and the Cardassian Union was unexplored. Chances are Starfleet planned for Deep Space Nine to be a launching point for expeditions into unexplored space. No doubt a science officer would have been required to analyse data received from those missions. Also with DS9 being responsible for ongoing aid to Bajor, there may have been development and education programs requiring a science officer.

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    Welcome to SFF! There is some good reasoning in your answer but do you know if there is anything from canon that could support your claims? – TheLethalCarrot Jun 7 '18 at 9:48

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