Throughout the program we’ve had the opportunity to hear from a variety of researchers at Duke. They have studied everything from CRISPR to bird song varieties, but have all shared one thing: their passion. Everyone who spoke had a clear passion for their work and a true love of science. It was inspiring to hear how so many people made successful careers for themselves that include their personal interests of discovery and innovation.
One talk that really struck me was from Dr. Anne West. Dr. West’s research was interesting to me from the start because it is in my intended field, but she also delivered such a powerful presentation on the importance of basic science research. Her presentation talked about the serendipity of finding CRISPR in archaea in the 1980s and how that discovery has led to a massive revolution in research today. Those findings will be able to alter medical treatment for a myriad of diseases, including Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy. Dr. West made a convincing, easy to follow, and powerful case for funding basic science research. She communicated with the audience in a way that many people would relate to, by bringing up how a disease affected a child. She gave her audience hope at the end, a clear understanding of how basic science research that was completely unrelated to a disease could become applicable to its treatment, and she did it all without using scientific jargon. I was impressed with her project idea and her future plans to collect these stories and turn them into a book. Her ability to use research that she was working on, science that she knew, personal experiences that she had, and an opinion that she believed in all at once was impressive. I was already planning on getting a Science and Society certificate from Duke, but now I might have an avenue by which to pursue my interests in conveying the importance of science to the general public. I hope that Dr. West’s project turns into a book that educates the public and our politicians about the importance of basic science and how drastically basic science can impact our society.