Of war zones and frontiers in science

I’ve been quiet for a while as I recently started my new position as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Jim Collins at MIT & the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. But by now I should be settled and can hopefully return to writing more frequently again!

One of my most recent pieces is an article for Times Higher Education, about the notion of frontiers and war zones in science. I’m fascinated by the concept of true frontier science in which you venture out into the truly unknown, not just the unknown vagaries of your backyard. Settling a rough landscape not only requires the construction of infrastructure but also carries great risk with it, for all involved. And worst of all, you’re not even sure if you will find anything of value in your costly and lengthy exploration.

Contrast that with war zones, hot/popular scientific topics, in which every small exchange is sensationalized. However, in some sense you can be more confident that what you do carries great meaning and consequence with it. This is of great use not only for potential beneficiaries of the science but also for the actual scientists who don’t endanger their careers or those of their mentees.

Read the article for more thoughts on this but I myself am very partial to true frontier science, even if it is just for the sake of discovery and the thrill of creativity needed to just stay alive out there!

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