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A poetic response to ‘Science is more than the sum of research’

Posted by , on 10 January 2024

Mayank Chugh’s post ‘Science is more than the sum of research’ struck a chord. A research associate at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and an aspiring poet in my spare time, I find a lot of value in communicating research to the public and often ponder on what it means to be a scientist. Driven by similar values to those expressed by Mayank, that science is more than science itself, I wrote the poem ‘Success in Science’ to air these thoughts.

About ‘Success in Science’

There are traditional measures of success in the research community, but should they be the only ways we define our success? The experiences that have stood out for me during my scientific career include working in a team from around the world, sharing ideas, teaching the next generation of scientists, communicating research to the public and, ultimately, being part of a bigger picture to improve the lives of patients. These are all, I think, fundamental to a functioning and successful research community, and are successes that we can all share and recognise. 

Success in Science

Success in science is hard to define,

What pops into your mind?

A Nobel Prize, the impact factor,

A finding that’s one of a kind?

Success is measured in more ways than one,

What does it mean to you?

With a different perspective we can find success

In not only the year but the everyday too.

*

We work in a team and voice our ideas,

Two heads are better than one.

All around the world we collaborate and share

To gain knowledge that is second to none.

We pass on our skills to the next generation,

Just as others have filled our own cup.

We mentor each other and throw down ladders,

To help others who are on their way up.

We communicate our research and our aims

To make the world a better place.

We share evidence and ask questions of own,

For an inquisitive mind there is always space.

Getting through each day can sometimes be a test,

Experiments don’t always go as planned.

But we pick ourselves up and think again and again,

As the more we persist, the more we understand.

For each day brings us a step closer,

Even through the triumphs and struggles,

Every experiment like a pin prick,

Gradually bursting the knowledge bubble.

*

Success in science we can all share,

Even in ways we may think are small.

For these make up the foundation of research,

So, let’s recognise and celebrate them all.

This poem is adapted from ‘Success in Science’, written as part of the University of Cambridge’s Creative Encounters Words project, a public engagement with research initiative led by David Cain. It was first published in the collection “The Hope of Knowing Love: Research Poems to Open Our World” and exhibited at the Cambridge Festival in Spring 2023. In this collection Kirsty used poetry to convey life as a scientist, her research on the childhood cancer neuroblastoma and the lived experiences of patients and their families.

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