25 No. 4
July - August 2003
do you do when you find yourself wondering about the meaning
of your job? While working more and ignoring the question
might be an option, it does not provide the satisfaction that
one might look for! Personally, I have often found the motivation
and energy I needed in a lecture hall, listening to someone
talk about science.
I was a college student, having enrolled in chemistry classes,
there were many times when I lost sight of the big picture
and my interest started to wane. The classes were very technical,
and the numerous challenges were apparently unrelated to each
other. And yet, for myself, I needed to acquire a sense of
progression, which did not transpire easily from our curriculum.
One highly motivating moment occurred when I attended a public
lecture by Hubert Reeves. With humor, energy, and simplicity,
this charismatic scientist took us on a journey of the universe.
The picture was bright and clear: science was the answer,
and chemistry an exciting part of it. Science is a puzzle,
and in a few words, Reeves explained to those assembled the
joy of putting the pieces together. At that time, he gave
me the motivation to continue my degree—and to go back
to p. chem. and thermo. classes.
graduate school, I was fortunate to attend several scientific
meetings where I received inspiration from many lecturers.
Those who most impressed me were not only chemists, but those
who tried to reach beyond the boundaries of their specific
disciplines. For example, I recall listening to physicists,
who spoke about solitons and polarons and who made us understand
that behind a concept there is a reality that comes from the
understanding of physics merged with chemistry; and biologists
and biochemists who showed how nature works, and encouraged
us to reproduce and/or adapt similar processes for designing
drugs or protecting crops.
I have left the laboratory, but I am still privileged to have
a job that keeps me close to science and scientists. At work,
I often have the chance to push things forward and hopefully
facilitate the job of volunteers who choose to participate
in IUPAC activities. When all that is not enough to keep me
going, I simply return to the science lecture hall at a nearby
university and the magic happens once again as the new ideas
and challenges of science provide fresh motivation. This August
however, the place to go for such inspiration will be the
IUPAC Congress, where the theme of Chemistry at the Interfaces
promises many vibrant presentations.
last modified 30 June 2003.
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