Happy accidents are those moments of sheer luck and coincidence in life that we’ve learned to cherish whenever they should pop up. We don’t really think about them though. We never take the time to reflect on them, to think where we might be in life should they have never occurred. Dr.Mohamed Noor made me think critically about happy accidents and for that reason I’d like to talk about what I gathered from his talk.
Dr.Mohamed’s talk woke me up from a deep sleep. Literally. I was face-down on the table when he walked in rambling about evolution and genetics. He went on to give a riveting talk about his path he followed as a scientist, the theory of evolution in the context of today’s society, and his own work. As a group we discussed possible solutions for communicating the theory of evolution to lay audiences in a way that they could be receptive to. He played us some example recordings of fly courtship ‘songs’ that were part of some of the work hs has done in speciation. However, the part about his talk that I really resonated with was the happy accident that occurred during the research project he was undertaking during graduate school.
Dr.Noor told us about amazing data he was able to produce during a graduate project that put him in the spotlight as an evolutionary biologist. He discussed it with humility and humor as he described how the amazing results were almost all sheer luck, a happy accident if you will. I found it interesting that Dr.Noor was so open about this. Where would he be if it hadn’t been for this happy accident. Would I be calling him ‘Dr.’ today? If someone had not sent me a snapchat of the Duke application two days before it was due, would I even be here today? I don’t have the answers to these questions or how my life would be different today but I do know it doesn’t matter. I’m so grateful for having been able to follow the path that I was set on by a trail of happy accidents. However, even if I hadn’t been ended up at Duke and at this program I would still know my future lies in science. I would have come to this realization in some other way in some alternate timeline. The paths we follow and the lives we live can seem so haphazard and random but what we can control is what we feel and know on the inside. No happy accident can change that.