Keep it fundamental

As a young kid I was a collector of almost anything one can think of. Natural objects such as rocks, (dried) plants, animal skeletons and insects had my particular interest. I spent hours looking at insect wings and drawing them as I saw them through the objective of my kiddy microscope. Or growing salt crystals with my home chemistry set. In hindsight it must be no wonder for my parents that I ended up doing a PhD in the natural sciences. Because at our Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, people are pursuing exactly what I was practicing for back in the days: purely curiosity-driven research: fundamental research, often without a direct apparent practical application. Take the viral polymerase molecular motors I’m observing through my microscope-for-grown-ups these days; in the far future this may lead to novel anti-viral vaccines, but as for now, all we really want to do is understand how nature works. People in the lab are not in it for the money, they are driven by curiosity.

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