Dear scientists,
Why do you study, the thing that you study? What is it, and why did you choose to study it over all the other possible things you could have studied?


More like this

Because it's an option on my PhD, and I can't do a more indepth choosing than that for now. Hopefully later I can pick more specifically. (so why i study what i do is so later, i can study what i want i suppose)

Buuuuuutttt you haven't told us what it is you study! Give us details, dammit.

The more you find out the more there is to know and the more interesting it gets.

I studied chemistry for years and I am still staggered by the elegance of the periodic table. So much information so beautifully captured in a simple diagram. The table is familiar to everyone but conveys so much information that many people aren't aware of. I've started blogging about the periodic table and researching each element is still teaching me the subtleties of the arrangement of the elements.

This is just one tiny aspect of science. So much to learn and so little time.

I would say it's a mixture of any or all of the following 10 reasons:

1. We like learning new things
2. We find the subject matter highly interesting
3. We have a burning curiosity to know the answer damn it
4. We like the idea of contributing to the world's knowledge pool
5. We like the idea of what we do being used for the betterment of mankind
6. We like the intellectual challenge
7. We like the competitive nature of the career path
8. We find it more fun than a desk job
9. We were mislead into thinking it was a great fame and moneymaking career, and think it's too hard to transition to anything else but *shudder* teaching now we know the truth
10. We want to take over the world one day (j/k?)

did I miss any?

Atm I'm working in a microfluidic group, and before xmas I was looking at glycosylation patterns with another group. Doing the structured phd/rotations thing atm, so no definite phd project for a few months.

I work on the depositional processes active in density currents. I started by looking at pyroclastic flows on volcanoes, and am now looking at submarine turbidity currents (big interest for oil and gas companies as they put down large amounts of sand which can act as a reservoir).

the more I find out about these things, the more interesting they become. You start by understanding the broad behaviours, and then get carried away by the nuances. Then you start thinking about whether what you've found can be applied to something else. From there you realise that this something else behaves differently, and that's weird. Then you start looking into it... you see where this is going.

There is nothing as satisfying to my mind as discovering a new problem and working out how to solve it.

I'm doing a PhD examining the development of Social Understanding in Preschoolers. For me it's fascination, the burning need to know how infants transition into fully functioning members of a Social world. And also, how and why things go wrong.

I love the scientific method, because it makes things clear and simple. You follow the method and get an answer at the end, though not always the answer you were looking for!

I also love how research is a constantly ongoing thing. One question leads to another, to another. It's the constant pursuit of the answer, of the truth.

I also completely agree with Laura's comment above, it definitely characterises me. ;)

Narcissism, masochism, curiosity, excitement... Oh and for pettiness, because whenever I asked 'why' the last answer I ever wanted to hear from a [parent/teacher/textbook] was "Because I told you so"

I'm a plant geneticist - specifically I try and help breeders get the right forms of the right genes into varieties, using molecular markers.

Why did I choose it? Well, over 15 years ago, I was in the same position as Tree (Comment 1) - I looked around, found a bunch of PhD projects I might be interested in, applied for them, got offered a couple, and had to make a choice about which one to pursue based on a fairly facile understanding of what they were about. Having supervised a few PhD students of my own now, I know this is a pretty common experience.

I keep doing it because I'm excited by the idea that by understanding the genetic basis of a characteristic, we can then exploit that knowledge to develop better, more productive cultivars requiring lower inputs. We'll also need to double world food production over the next forty years, and the sort of science I'm involved in, although not as sexy as other areas, is going to be a major contributor in feeding 9 billion people by 2050. Oh, also, I have a mortgage and two kids, and at this stage, owning a second hand bookshop frequented only by other sci-fi nerds (I can dream!) is unlikely to provide the funds to support them.

I study the movement of cancer cells. I try and work out why they are moving in response to certain treatements and what stops them (pharmacology and cell signalling).

I am studying this because it was an advertised PhD studentship in a location I wanted to move to. I picked this project because it spanned industry and academia and I love the great puzzle of how cells respond to their environment.