Inspiration doesn’t play by any set rules. It can come from anywhere and strike when you least expect it. An early inkling of a great idea can linger in the corners of the mind and push people forward indirectly.
Our SN 10: Scientists to Watch list is a short study of inspiration. For the seventh year, science news it is with 10 early and mid-career scientists Driven by their curiosity and sense of wonder, they moved to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Everyone is making a mark in their chosen field. Inspired by the beauty he saw in a video of a developing embryo during a high school science class, Marcos Simões-Costa seeks to understand how cells differentiate during development. It was the starry skies of Scotland that prompted planetary scientist Robin Wordsworth to study whether and how life could survive elsewhere in the cosmos. And for Jacky Austermann, her love of math and the outdoors led her to physics, then to the interior of the Earth, and ultimately to climate change.
Each year we seek SN 10 nominations from Nobel Laureates, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and former SN 10 scientists. This year’s names come from those notable people, and then some. For the first time, we open nominations to other scientists and the general public, expanding the breadth of our list. He led another impressive team, many of whom also dedicated themselves to inspiring others.
Biological anthropologist Tina Lasisi, who studies the evolution of human variation, hosts a PBS Digital Studios show and is a popular voice on TikTok. She wants to inspire people of color to ask questions that are important to them. “Research is the search for myself,” she says. Neutrino physicist Carlos Argüelles-Delgado is passionate about supporting physics students who don’t have role models that look like them. “It’s about not giving up, right?” Arguelles says. Environmental engineer Smruthi Karthikeyan involved elementary school students in her coronavirus tracking efforts by letting them name sewage-collecting robots.
There are many sparks for new ideas in these science stories. We hope they inspire you too. —Elizabeth Quill
Do you want to nominate someone for the next SN 10 list? Send your name, affiliation and a few sentences about them and their work to email@example.com.