Professor Eminent in our department retired recently and we threw a big party. He stood on a podium amidst photos depicting years in science, hanging balloons and ribbons, champagne, cake, and a swarm of colleagues from grad students to emeriti and explained that his retirement won’t really be a retirement because he has no other outside interests nor hobbies (besides his science). And among the thanks he gave to people, he cited his wife for taking care of all of his needs so he could focus exclusively on doing his science.
Ah. Living my life defined by single-minded focus and dedication to doing science is one of the top hits on my own fantasy rotation. So I was definitely envious yet simultaneously thankful for my own messy but rich existence juggling my job as an associate professor in the physical sciences, a two-career household, a quickly growing kid, a huge array of family, friends, adults, children, life in a big complicated city, running a lab, funding research, teaching, service, colleagues, mistake-based learning, and yes: doing science.
And I knew it was time to write about it, in a public way.
By the time I was in elementary school I knew in the way that I knew I was left-handed that I am a scientist. As an adult on my way to middle-aged I am increasingly fascinated by the fact that science is done by people—the same highly flawed, too-human characters that enrich the good books, theater, art, dance, music that make me bawl yet also fill me up from the inside because I am reminded that I am human like that too.
This blog is my attempt to explore the cross derivatives that define the state of my life: ideas and the people who work with them. Science and the process of doing it. The macroscopic state and the mechanisms that govern changes. Equilibrium and kinetics. Temperature, pressure, and all sorts of potentials (electricity and magnetism, anyone?). I will also explore boundaries and interfaces, at depth.
That paragraph has now merged completely into the subject matter of the proposal I’m working on, so I’m off to work on that.