The Sassy Scientist – Research Relevance

The Sassy Scientist – Research Relevance

Every week, The Sassy Scientist answers a question on geodynamics, related topics, academic life, the universe or anything in between with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Do you have a question for The Sassy Scientist? Submit your question here.

Meghan asks:

Why is your research relevant?

Dear Meghan,

Because I like it. My supervisor is in my office every day to talk about my results. I talk to people outside my department and they say it all looks very promising. Who cares I did not produce a Nature or Science paper? I’m having fun… *cough*

But seriously: this is a frequently asked question and a particularly difficult question to answer when you’re a young scientist. It also depends on the goal: should your research be applicable to society (most funding agencies seem to head in that direction), or is fundamental research in trying to understand the present-day state and history of our (and other) planet(s) also relevant? Oftentimes geodynamics research is only indirectly related in terms of societal impact. Does this mean that our research is irrelevant? I doubt it.

To be clear, when you design a research project or scroll through research job postings, the only thing you should be thinking of is if this is interesting enough to work on for a couple of years. Then, when you are doing this research, the answer to your question is an easy one: because it’s interesting enough for you to work on it.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written after seeing the umpteenth ‘exciting observation’ for some space thingy a gazillion miles away on a national news program.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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