Scientists Are More So Artists Than Technicians

Visualize a scientist. What comes to mind? In popular media, scientists are often portrayed as anti-social, nerdy loners who spend all their time in the lab. This couldn’t be further from the case. While there may be some who fall into the stereotype, in my experience, scientists are some of the most wonderful human beings. When you are working in the highest levels of science, you are surrounded by people with great passion and drive.

Yes, they have ambitions, they have failings, and they have personalities as all people do. Some are more personable than others, and some prefer limited societal involvement. But all of them are passionate. Why pursue a specific scientific practice if you are not driven by finding answers? Scientists are dedicated to discovering new knowledge, to contributing something great.

Many assume science is cold, exact, and lifeless. Quite the opposite. Science, at the highest levels, is a true art form, not a technical exercise. While an individual experiment may seem technical and isolated, the work is part of a larger global picture. You are pursuing an end goal of creating a better world, and each experiment may be another small step towards that goal.

My time in lab settings was pursuant to laying down a foundation for later knowledge to build on. My work in HIV/AIDS and Human Genome Sciences was some of the first in the subject. I wanted to lay down a groundwork, brick by brick, for later scientists to build off of and discover something groundbreaking, something special.

Whether or not I lay claim to scientific progress is irrelevant. My goal through my decades of work was to help make the world a better place. If others build on the bricks I laid, and their discoveries accomplish that end goal, then I am satisfied with my life, with my passion. Now, I attempt to do the same with my work at ACCESS Health International in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This blog is one in a series showcasing some of the stories that are included in my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.