Always in our research group each scientist individually and collectively is charged
with developing his or her science, critiquing it, and arguing for it. These are scientific
arguments (as opposed to yelling!), backed up with experiment estimates of signal, etc. We
ask on the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly time scales:
1) What are the most important (high-impact) experiments to do?
2) What will it take to do them?
3) What can we learn along the way?
4) What are the impediments?
5) What is the probability of success?
It makes for exciting and high level science!
We have had group members trained in: chemistry, physics, materials science & engineering, bioengineering, biology, mathematics, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and neuroscience. We collaborate with other groups even further afield. One advantage of this approach is that each field has its own language and its own perspectives on how to do experiments and on the potential impact of experiments. We teach each the other languages skills required to speak to all those interested in our work. Some of our best discussions/arguments involve working out experimental plans across these disciplinary boundaries.
I try not to get people in the group who are just going to work on what they did before. Part of my own success and much of my pleasure comes from learning new areas, taking a fresh approach, and looking at problems from a novel perspective. I think this is a critical part of training scientists and engineers. I have projects to offer, but these are really starting points; together in our group we develop new paths based on discoveries along the way.
Paul S. Weiss
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27 November 2012