The Power List 2015
Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University, USA.
Most important lesson To be observant – often scientific discoveries are in plain sight but only the few who take the time to examine the data in detail are rewarded.
Encounters with serendipity I was weighing various options for a thesis topic when a second-year graduate student was suddenly drafted into the army. His research project became available and I stepped right in. If not for this turn of events, I might not have taken up an academic career in analytical chemistry.
Most unexpected outcome Our research was primarily in the area of small molecules until by chance I attended a brainstorming session for administrators. It immediately dawned on me that there are many important problems in biology that can be explored if the appropriate analytical instrumentation is available. That started our extensive ventures into the Human Genome Project and single-cell analysis.
Eye on the horizon Unfortunately, too many research projects nowadays are geared towards publications in “high impact factor” journals. We must not forget that great science requires patience and depth. The reward system should be retooled to recognize important “bodies of works” rather than scattered articles in journals that may not even be in the relevant research disciplines.