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Blog: The value of scientific endeavour

What is really needed for success in the scientific world is imagination, passion for knowledge and discovery, and practical ability to implement our findings.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

Andrea Sadloňová is a Slovak-born scientist who returned home after 19 years in the USA.

There are several things from my scientific past that I still keep close to my heart – my desire for knowledge, passion for exploration, and need for implementation of scientific findings to improve our lives. I think these attributes characterize any scientist. In scientific endeavor, we emphasize the importance of empirical evidence, making decisions based on data, and proving or disapproving one’s hypothesis through experimentation. Many scientists may find their true love in graphs and tables, just like economists and business people have a proclivity towards pie charts and excel spreadsheets, but what is really needed for success in the scientific world is imagination, passion for knowledge and discovery, and practical ability to implement our findings. We scientists frequently ask ourselves whether we have enough passion to keep going, why we do the things we do, what are the implications of our work and what is there to discover?

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Unfortunately, the negative stereotype that scientists are one-dimensional and unimaginative personalities is strongly embedded in our pop culture. True scientists are not dry, humorless people reciting meaningless, boring facts at parties. They are well-rounded people passionate about many fascinating things in life, drawing energy, motivation and ideas from various, even unrelated, sources.

I worked for two very inspiring physician-scientists during my scientific training. I always held deep respect for both of them and believed that my work in their laboratories would eventually be valuable for society. No matter what kind of scientific work is done and no matter how small, if done well and with purpose, it carries benefits. In science, it is not one award-winning person making big discoveries that makes the difference but rather a combined effort of many involved in the research. Both positive data and negative data procured from teams of scientists help science move forward. That is why good research is so expensive and why we shouldn’t focus solely on Einstein-like people in our era of science. Of course, people become famous because of their ideas, discoveries, successful publications, and years of work, but true progress is made by a massive undertaking of many people dedicating their lives to scientific pursuit.

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