Sunday, February 22, 2015

Playful Science Joy

The most important quality in a graduate student is playfulness. A light-hearted excitement about exploring something new.

My heart leaps when a student says, "I was thinking" or "I was wondering", and when those thoughts are far beyond the current topic of conversation. The click-clack of connections, new ones unconsidered before.

This is a student who goes to the library because they want to, not because they have to. They read books far outside their discipline. They create wild, innovative ideas as easily as they breathe.

The best part of my job is when I meet a student like this, and feel great hope about the future.


  1. Young student always have creative mind and thought. Computer help Bristol

  2. This topic has been on my mind for almost a year now.

    I feel I was a lot more "playful" when I was an undergrad. This was many years before grad school because I spent some years in industry as well.

    I remember I used to do a lot of reading and programming for fun. I read all kinds of crap and hacked on so many different projects. At some point after I started my master's degree I stopped doing this. I *think* I felt I ought to be productive and do only Serious Research (tm), although I don't think I ever made a conscious decision to stop. It was more like I ought to focus on X now, and leave the fun stuff for when this paper gets done. And then when the phd started, it was Even More Serious Business! So I haven't done much hacking at all.

    One weekend last summer I told myself, "I will hack for fun this weekend." I ended up writing something moderately useful. I had big plans for how I would take that weekend project forward, but to be honest, I haven't put any effort into it since then. And as the clock ticks on my phd, I now feel guilty about doing stuff that isn't directly related to research.

    So that turned into a bit of meandering rant.

    I haven't been following my favorite blogs since the demise of google reader and I finally back here came here on a whim, but I'm glad your still writing, FCS! :)

    1. Thanks, Pramod! I also lost touch with blogs once Google reader went away. Though really I can only blame that a little. There's really no time for anything "extra" on the computer beyond work these days, sadly.