I am incredibly honored to advise an excellent group of scientists, comprised of uniquely capable, curious, interesting, and wildly different people. Each member comes to the group following a different path, bringing a different perspective, and almost always having overcome hardships of one type or another. Scientific curiosity unites us, delight in one another’s achievements sustains us, and respect for one another’s humanity keeps us on course. This is the research group I wish to maintain.
Life in science and on the street is not simple. Our world and our field suffer in the face of daily injustices, incidents of racism and discrimination, violent and quiet. George Floyd’s death broke our hearts, and its tragedy is neither rare nor remote. It occurred in our world, and this is a world we must make a better place.
Scholarly discourse is not immune, including published, unpublished, and formally retracted works expressing sentiments of repression, prejudice and malice. Articles like the essay of Tomas Hudlicky, recently retracted by Angewandte Chemie after seeping out briefly into the public eye, celebrate neither free speech nor excellence, but suppress both. Our community of scientists must be better, denouncing racism, sexism and hate, while promoting equity, fairness and inclusion.
I have a role to play. We all have a role to play. Fundamentally and for starters, I affirm that excellence itself is maximized when the most diverse set of people and ideas are contributing to the framing of questions and the crafting of solutions. But, it is not only about scientific excellence. Only in a just world can our eyes be open wide enough, and our minds uncluttered enough, to see and understand all of the splendor that nature sets before us. This is the world I want to live in. Our challenge, which I welcome, is to connect, as the ancients suggested, mind and hand, word and deed, and of course theory and experiment.
June 9, 2020