Promote curiosity-driven basic research, says Dr. Ron Vale


Dr. Ron Vale, Vice President of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Executive Director, Janelia Research Campus greeting the crowd when he was shown in big screen before his lecture on ‘Marvelous Molecular Motors’  during The TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the life sciences at JN Tata auditorium in Bengaluru on Friday, January 13.

Dr. Ron Vale, Vice President of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Executive Director, Janelia Research Campus greeting the crowd when he was shown in big screen before his lecture on ‘Marvelous Molecular Motors’ during The TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the life sciences at JN Tata auditorium in Bengaluru on Friday, January 13.
| Photo Credit: K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Ron Vale, Vice-President, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Maryland, United States, and Featured Speaker of the TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences–2023, on Friday said that curiosity-driven basic research is essential and should be promoted in India.

Dr. Ron addressing students and researchers at the JN Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), on “Marvelous Molecular Motors” said, “Curiosity-driven basic research is essential and I think we have to promote that in India and in the U.S. because that is the engine of the future.”

Excitement of science

He also told the audience, especially the students, that they don’t have to make a famous discovery to feel the sense of excitement.

“I remember when I was in high school, I set up a laboratory in my basement and I had a small question that I was trying to answer…. There was something really thrilling in not just repeating a laboratory experiment that had been done thousands of millions of times, but coming up with your one question to solve and learning something new that nobody else in humankind had ever known. That piece of knowledge, even if it is small, it’s something that you deal with and you solve. I think that is the joy of science and you know the incredible excitement of discovery,” he said.

Curiosity and persistence

Dr. Ron said that the key attributes that make a scientist great is curiosity and persistence.

“Some people ask me what it takes to be a great scientist and I would say that it is first of all curiosity. If you can keep that element of curiosity burning whether you are a high school student or an undergraduate student or head of an institute, it is fundamental for science. Another attribute which is very important is persistence. Not every experiment works. I would like to say nature does not give up secrets easily and you have sometimes to do many experiments, troubleshoot or find new ways to approach a problem,” said Dr. Ron.



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