Saturday, January 24, 2015

The value of ‘curiosity-driven’ research

Darwin did not study the natural world to understand the genome with the purpose of developing the field of genetic engineering.  Einstein did not study the curvature of space-time and the eerie condensation of particles called bosons to develop the GPS system or to invent the laser. Instead, these scientists were driven by curiosity and an intense thirst to unlock the mysteries of life, matter, and space-time. The practical applications of their research, which have fundamentally transformed the fabric of our lives, came about fortuitously as a byproduct of their relentless pursuit of understanding.

Universities must continue to hold a public commitment and financially invest in fundamental research, not only to expand human knowledge, as an end to itself, but also because basic research can lead to breakthroughs that shift scientific paradigms and enable novel applications that leapfrog existing technologies.  Strong support for continued hiring of bright and energetic basic researchers at universities should continue, as it reinvigorates existing research areas, attracts the best and brightest students, and increases the visibility of our research and the reputation of our institution.  Basic research is the foundation on which new innovation and societal solutions are built.

No comments:

Post a Comment