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What’s Ado?

A LIFE IN SCIENCE

FotoYou must be very clever! A comment by pubgoers in the UK when we (PhD students of last millennium) went for a drink and interacted with locals. Indeed, many falsely believe that one must be a genius of some sort to be a good scientist. Others believe that scientists are lonely socially challenged people with no life and thus they spend their time locked in laboratories doing crazy experiments. Whoever says such things certainly does not know (m)any scientists. On the other hand, we scientists are no much out there interacting with (pseudo)normal social humans with limited intellects.

Does a good scientist need the brainpower of Isaac Newton? The rational thinking of Albert Einstein? Fortunately for most of us, this is not the case, I would not qualify in a 1,000,000 years. First, I have never being gently knocked on the head by a falling apple… where I come from we grow coconuts – I guess the effect would be rather different despite that gravitational force is identical. Moreover, the stories of success are fraught with legend, nobody tells much about the many failures and desperate times.

Do you like challenges? Solving problems? Are you able to come back from defeat? Are you able to go ahead with an idea despite others “advising” you not to? These are indeed characteristics of every good scientist but is that enough? Hmmmm.

So, what do you need to pursue a career in science?. In my opinion – Passion. A passion for science, this is what you need most of all. It is the only thing that can drive you through the many things that need to be done, some people call these “sacrifices”. I call them “things that need to be done”. So, if you need to work weekends, or miss another family reunion, or the dancing performance or football match of your kids…

Is Adolek telling us to sacrifice all for science?. Nope, I’m telling you that you will miss some parties/events if you really follow the path of research, you might feel bad about it but once you get good results you will forget about that… you partner might not forget though – for that… wine helps!

Passion is the thing that can get you through the long periods of unsuccessful experiments until you nail it. Passion is the thing that get you in front of an audience so you can tell them about your work, it is the thing that wakes you up in the middle of the night and can’t wait until morning. It will take you across the finishing (dead)line for a grant application. And passion is the very thing in your work, or talk, that can, and should, transpire.

Passion, together with imagination, hard work, concentration, observation and communication, plus some stubbornness, are essential for this business. If you do not have them in you… find a different career path. If you do not get totally excited by good results then this is not for you. Honestly, there are many other jobs that are not as demanding and where you can have more regular hours. If you think that your smarts are going to get you across with minimal efforts, then you are not that smart.
How about rational thinking and maths? …well, Einstein said “I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking”, he also said “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Yet, probably my favourite quote is from Charles Darwin: “My success as a man of science, whatever this may have amounted to, has been determined… by complex and diversified mental qualities and conditions. Of these, the most important have been – the love of science… I was considered by all my masters and by my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect."

Long time ago I got very good results, higher than average, in an IQ test. That has never stopped me for doing tons of really stupid things… including writing all this!

BTW, our team (made up of 5 PhD students) never won the local pub’s quiz night back in the UK!

Adolek

Foto

About himself:
Adolek is a semi-social hairy-legged lab primate, who is also a research scientist at the Dept of Biochem and Mol Biol, Medical University of Lublin.
More info about Adolek

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