Last semester, I was struck by a remark Jim Tiedje made during PubClub about a well-regarded scientist he knew who worked in a not-so-great lab but who had identified a top scientist in his field and emulated him/her. By adopting the character traits of an admired scientist, the implication goes, we can ourselves become better scientists. This reminded me of Rob Pennock’s Scientific Virtues project, which through surveys has identified the traits that scientists admire in our culture.
To kick off the new year, I asked everyone in my lab to submit a brief writeup of one of their science role models and reflect on how his/her traits enabled their scientific achievements. Many selected a former advisor, while others chose someone established in their field or someone famous they admired. Recurrent virtues included: Skepticism, Rigor, Loyalty, Hard work, Communication Ability, Caring, Curiosity, and Risk-taking. Many highlighted the importance of training students and postdocs and creating opportunities in science for those with diverse backgrounds.
The Friesen Lab’s Scientific Role Models: Catharina Coenen; Rosie Redfield; Mary Seely; Scott Peck; Jack Webster; Joan Strassmann; Lisa Donovan; Thomas Kuhn; David Arora; Alfred Wegener; Kathleen Rubins
To try to emulate our role models (and because Aaron Garoutte, Sheril Kirshenbaum and I are running a “Communicating Science” seminar this spring!) one of my 2017 resolutions is to write a post on this website every week–and my lab is going to hold me to it!