Like most of my friends, I fell in love with science at a very early age and decided to live my dream by becoming a scientist. If you are reading this post, chances are that you too share this feeling and are passionate about science. Unfortunately, there are many passion-killers out there and the reality of living life as a scientists is too much to bear for many seasoned researchers. In a very interesting article published in NPR last week, author Richard Harris describes the struggle of two men who had successful science careers and the reasons they left the lab behind to pursue other interests.
I urge you to read the original article on NPR. You will be introduced to former Professor, Ian Glomski who had a well funded lab at the University of Virginia. Dr. Glomski’s was funded to do predictable and somewhat boring research. Like the rest of us, he too entered science to fulfill his passion and his line of research was not answering that call. So Ian asked the NIH to fund a revolutionary idea that he hoped would rock his world of research. Unfortunately, his ideas were never funded and with his loss of funding, down went his science career.
You will also read about Dr. Randen Patterson who also tried, unsuccessfully, to receive funding for unconventional, yet potentially ground breaking research. When his idea was shot down, he too left the university, never to set foot in an academic lab again.
The article laments a funding system that fits scientists safely into a standardized square box and penalizes those who dare propose to do something different. Every scientist dreams about conducting Nobel-Prize-worthy research. Every scientist is desperately seeking that Eureka! moment. We all entered science to fulfill that spark. Shouldn’t our funding systems be geared towards fanning the flames of creativity rather than extinguishing the flames in a drought of funding?