• Question: who is your biggest inspiration in science?

    Asked by 08cgjw to Stuart, Mark, Donna, Jo, Tim on 24 Jun 2010 in Categories: . This question was also asked by leejp02, clarkrm02, bntsg.
    • Photo: Mark Lancaster

      Mark Lancaster answered on 13 Jun 2010:


      There are many scientists from the past who I admire and whose work has certainly be an inspiration to pursue a career in physics but that was probably when I was a teenager: Enrico Fermi, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, John Dalton, Robert Oppenheimer, Paul Dirac, James Clerk-Maxwell, Richard Feynman to name a few and since I’ve been a scientist you learn about more obscure ones who I’ve got a great deal of admiration for (not sure inspiration is the right word) : Emmy Noether, Rosalind Franklin, Ernest Stuckelberg (who has the longest name in physics – his full name is Johann Melchior Ernst Karl Gerlach Stückelberg von Breidenbach zu Breidenstein und Melsbach – his mates called him Ernest…) and who narrowly missed out on more Nobel Prizes [notably Feynman’s on QED] than I’ve had hot dinners ). At school I was certainly inspired by a couple of my teachers – actually in Maths and Chemistry (not Physics !) who really had a passion for the subject and were fantastic teachers and who always talked about things just beyond the syllabus or at the next level which spurred me on to find out and study more. That’s why we need more Physics teachers with a degree in Physics…. On a non-science level I’ve also drawn inspiration from my Mother and Grandparents who have instilled in me a work-ethic and the attitude that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it and work hard enough at it. But these days the people who inspire me are the people who I work with on a day-to-day basis who are having ideas (often crazy) or pursuing difficult technological problems or battling against the odds (both bureaucratic and scientific/technological) to make a measurement or to build an experiment. There are also many people who de-inspire me – but don’t get me started on that !!!

    • Photo: Donna MacCallum

      Donna MacCallum answered on 14 Jun 2010:


      @08cgjw I would say that my biggest inspiration in science would be my ex-boss (Prof. Frank Odds) who has been a fantastic mentor, instructor and friend. Frank is still one of the big names in fungal research (even though he has now retired) and wrote one of the major textbooks (back in the 70s), which is still used today!
      I worked with Frank for 10 years, and in that time he showed me how to be a good scientist – how to be analytical, critical and productive. Frank also encouraged me to become the independent scientist that I am today

    • Photo: Joanna Buckley

      Joanna Buckley answered on 22 Jun 2010:


      Hiya you guys 🙂

      I’d say Marie Curie. There was a time when women weren’t taken very seriously in science but Marie was different. Not only did she discover elements in the periodic table but she was the pioneer of chemotherapy and using x-rays to cure cancer. She has saved millions of lives with her science and I really hope I can do the same 🙂

    • Photo: Tim Craggs

      Tim Craggs answered on 24 Jun 2010:


      My dad was a big inspiration when I was smaller. Then other scientists I have worked with.

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