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It’s Reconnaissance Time

We launched the Power List back in 2013 as a celebration. We wanted to highlight great minds and fantastic achievements, while drawing attention to the huge breadth and depth of the field – and the strength of the community despite that fact. Nine years on, much is the same; we are still celebrating all of those things (with a nod to our usual disclaimer about the non-definitive nature of any such list).

Yet some aspects have changed. Back in 2013, we asked our Power Listers for a brief line about their research and a career highlight or two. Now, we ask a wider range of more probing questions. The aim – in addition to eliciting helpful words of wisdom and adding more than a touch of color – is to paint a picture of the current state of the field, according to those at its forefront. And that’s why the Power List is one of my favorite issues of the year.

The world has also changed. So it’s fascinating to explore what 2022’s rising stars think about the problems they are tasked with solving. To give you a teaser, fears include difficulties attracting talent, focusing on tools rather than the questions that need answering, the rise of the “mega lab” (and its impact on funding more widely), a decline in fundamental understanding, diversity (which we explore here), and a lack of standardization in data reporting and processing. And, of course, there are many specific challenges relating to individual specialties. (We’re busy compiling responses for another “Musings from the Power List” article series that we’ll publish on our website over the coming weeks; keep your eyes peeled!)

But if you’re concerned our Top 40 Under 40 Power List is all doom and gloom, I’d suggest dipping into this year’s “predictions.” The future – according to analytical science’s up-and-comers – is miniaturized chromatography, 3D printed columns, portable biosensors, mass spec-enabled clinical decision making, and well-characterized gene therapies. We’ll also see all-round faster, easier-to-use, greener, more sensitive, and increasingly automated instruments.

Youthful optimism? Perhaps – but it’s worth noting that many of this year’s Power Listers are already heading up large groups (despite a relatively young age) – and some even made it onto 2021’s Top 100 List. Personally, I think there’s cause for genuine excitement when considering what the next 5–10 years may bring.

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About the Author
James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.

From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.

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