Friday, July 26, 2013

A Future in Science: Daydreaming is Free

Why academia would be nice? Here's what I would like to do in the future.

Let the daydreaming start. In a hopefully not very distant future...

I would like to be getting ready with my team for an interesting research project, say about the interaction between surface water waves and corals reefs. For this, it is necessary that we leave the day after tomorrow to Tel-Aviv, Israel, making a stop in our way to our final destination, the Coral Pilars of the Red Sea. 

In the Red Sea, we would measure Stokes drift and turbulence using of course the cutting-edge instruments. My team of motivated scientists of different personalities and or backgrounds provide interesting ideas on how to tackle multiple problems. Some of them are good sensors that know their way with instruments and circuits, some may be theory-driven and others good at scientific computing. Together, we could work towards an interesting goal while we remain open to serendipity and random ideas. We would meet and invite intersting people from other departments in Israel to consider their important ideas to the project. 

Moreover, future collaboration can begin with this - I might have new students in the future that are interested and I could help them do the networking with these people. This would also be good for REUs - Research Experience for Undergraduates since I would know a lot of people to connect students with, so that they are well prepared for interesting careers in research, policy-making or industry.

While the experience was great and we now have lots of data for our questions, one of the collaborators indicated that there are processes that require further study in controlled settings such as the ones a wave flume could provide. Combining observations and lab work, this person reasoned, we would have a bigger picture of how the system works. Due to this, further networking was done and this collaborator will now go to a short stay in Otego, New Zealand, where they have a specialized flume for this purpose. People from there also participate in the final manuscript. 

The opportunity is also nice for a short trip to Beirut, Lebanon, to the HAY Festival 'Imagine the world'. Plenty of debate, interviews and conversations about current topics, from literature and history to science. Of course time also to know about the different cultures, people, food and so on. 

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