Statements

Research, with a passion

Young researchers, qualified scientists, Nobel Prize winners, communicators… What was it that prompted them to pursue a career in science? What does their job mean to them? Some researchers give their points of view.

Jean Audouze
Jean Audouze
Axel Cleeremans
Axel Cleeremans
Christine Chappuis
Christine Chappuis
Christelle Chrea
Christelle Chrea
Christian de Duve
Christian de Duve
Anders Karlsson
Anders Karlsson
Marco Kirm
Marco Kirm
Athanasios G. Konstandopoulos
Athanasios G. Konstandopoulos
Guido Kroemer
Guido Kroemer
Klaus Müllen
Klaus Müllen
Michael North
Michael North
Helga Nowotny
Helga Nowotny
Osmo Pekonen
Osmo Pekonen
Wendy Sadler
Wendy Sadler
Lise Thiry
Lise Thiry

Alessandro Armando – Artificial Intelligence – The University of Genoa - IT

It is difficult to say exactly what drove me to become a researcher… It was a gradual process; a desire to learn and explore and the pleasure of discovery…

Jean Audouze – Physicist – Researcher at CNRS - FR

This job gives me the freedom to work when and how I want, and provides me with the pleasure of understanding and discovering the world around us.

Axel Cleeremans – Cognitive Sciences – Research Director at FNRS - BE

The thing that made me decide to go into this profession was a report by Donald Broadbent, one of the great British cognitive psychologists. The feeling of contributing to knowledge, of being able to be creative on a daily basis and of spreading this knowledge brings me immense pleasure...

Christine Chappuis – Law Lecturer – Geneva University - CH

I chose to pursue a career in law for the wrong reasons, but I grew attracted to this exciting and thought-provoking field. What I like is explaining abstract and sometimes complicated ideas and demonstrating their specific application to students. This forces you to delve deeper into a subject matter, which helps fuel further research. In turn, this research may prompt a sudden dazzling revelation – even if it is just for a split instant, this moment is treasured.

Christelle Chrea – Nutritional Biologist – Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences in Geneva - CH

I never thought of becoming a researcher. My childhood dream was to be a chef and, initially, I trained to become one. I opted for research because it gave me the opportunity to become involved in a field covering many of my personal interests (the world of smells, the discovery of new cultures), and above all to work with enthusiastic people who passed their enthusiasm on to me. With my job, I am able to think freely and be creative. I also get to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures and tell them about my work. Finally, I think that what I am doing now is more or less my ideal job – working in an experimental and exploratory field on ideas linked to the pleasure of taste and smell.

Martine Collart – Geneticist – Geneva University - CH

When I was little, I always adored all kinds of puzzles and brain teasers. Then at secondary school, I was drawn to the idea of doing research to advance our knowledge of medicine. Later, when I had the chance to work in a laboratory during my biochemistry studies, I immediately knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do. I love everything that has to do with research – such as looking at the evidence, preparing models which may explain observations, setting up and carrying out experiments to prove or invalidate the models. I also love to learn. And the advances in the field of genetics are absolutely fascinating.

Christian de Duve — Nobel Prize in Medicine - BE

In my second year of medicine, I followed the traditional route taken by all "good" students of devoting their free time to working as volunteers in a research laboratory. I started in the physiology laboratory. One year later, I had caught the research bug. Since then, I have never looked back.

Anders Karlsson – Quantum Photonics – Royal Institute of Technology - SE

As a child, I built things with Lego blocks and, at school, I always loved physics and maths. At high school, I vividly remember a trip to the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where I saw lasers for the first time...As a researcher, you get to stimulate your mind to try and find things out, play around with the latest technology, and meet interesting people from all over the world... what could be better than that?

Marco Kirm – Physicist – Tartu University - EE

I have always been interested in the whys and wherefores. I am driven by the beauty of the learning and research process. And how, after some disappointments, you can finally reach the "truth" which opens up a new horizon...

Athanasios G. Konstandopoulos – Chemical Engineer – Head of the Aerosol & Particle Technology Lab - EL

I am motivated by the very strong desire to be free to choose and do what I like, instead of being told what to do. But, above all, I want my research to have an impact and be useful to our society.

Guido Kroemer – Molecular Biologist – Research Director INSERM - FR

If you like the smell of mice, the noise of refrigerators, the look of cells under the microscope, nights in the lab and the excitement of bibliographic research, then you have all the right attributes to become a scientist…It is especially during moments when the mind has won a Pyrrhic victory over matter that I enjoy my job as a researcher the most. However, for me the most important thing is to work in a friendly atmosphere where my colleagues are satisfied with their projects.

Klaus Müllen – Chemist – Max-Planck Institute for Polymer Research - DE

Research is to do and learn things that no one has done or learnt before.

Michael North – Chemist – Newcastle University - UK

I have always been fascinated by the unknown and chemistry offers the unique opportunity to prepare a substance that has never existed before anywhere in the universe and to be the first person to study its properties. I would like to play a part in improving the situation of humanity and be able, through my research, to find chemical alternatives to avoid waste.

Helga Nowotny – Sociologist - AT

Halfway through my secondary school studies, I suddenly discovered the joy of understanding. A problem, which seemed to have nothing to do with me before, transformed part of the world into something that was now mine. This joy has always remained with me. Research is about being curious and never losing sight of what motivates you. It is about testing ideas – be they concepts or empirical findings. And it is about discussing these ideas with interesting people (which does not rule out disagreements), only to start all over again…

Osmo Pekonen – Mathematician – Jyväskylä University - FI

I was attracted to mathematical research at a very young age, having twice participated in the International Maths Olympiad with the Finnish team as a high school student – some might call it a childhood passion. As a scientific journalist, I have had the chance to meet some of the greatest mathematicians of our times. They are often colourful characters who, unfortunately, remain largely unrecognised by the public. I don’t think I will ever leave the beautiful world of mathematics.

Wendy Sadler – Physicist – Science made simple Cardiff - UK

I chose to pursue a career in science communication because I love the expression on the faces of an audience when people understand some element of science for the first time. I am passionate about physics and I like the opportunity to share that passion with as many people as possible. Physics has always been a way to help me understand the world — from the colour of the sky to the way my TV remote control works. Students have such a negative stereotype of physicists that I like to see if I can make them change their opinion and even get them excited by it…

Javier Tejada — Physicist – Barcelona University - ES

When I was a child, I liked watching my father, a chemist, work. What motivates me? The search for new ideas and carrying out new experiments. Hearing nature’s response and playing a game of questions and answers in science are the most exciting things for me.

Lise Thiry – Virologist – Free University of Brussels - BE

I had a long-held ambition to be a researcher…Although I loved general medicine, I started working at the Pasteur Institute because of my baby, in order to have fixed working hours! But then I was bitten by the research bug. What has research taught me the most? That curiosity is not a bad thing. It should also be nurtured in everyday life.

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