Mysterious Commonplace, The: A Life In Science

Charles Delisi

Format: Print Book

ISBN: 9789811238451

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The Mysterious Commonplace is a narrative memoir which begins in grade school, when my interest in science was influenced by the chance reading of an unusual book, an uncle who asked provocative questions about common occurrences, and the painful experience of watching my neighborhood change from dense woods to cement. The story traces my educational path from physics to history to physics, and then to a career as a biomedical scientist and policy setter caught up with big ideas. It recounts the fierce initial pushback as I moved to launch the Human Genome Project, and reflects on the ethical dilemmas raised by the Project, and more generally on the ethical dilemmas resurrected by modern technology. The narrative moves on through my years of Dean of a College, my role in expanding the field of biomedical engineering, and my reflections on what the US needs to do to maintain technological leadership, while at the same time assuring that our technological innovations are used to benefit the people of the world. It concludes with my return to where I started, picturing the transformation of the neighborhood of my youth, as I recalled lines from Inversnaid, and came to realize that genomics might help mitigate one of the most serious challenges of our age, climate change.The broader context of the narrative is about a life in science; it's about people: the influence of friends and family, the deep satisfaction that comes from being part of a diverse and collaborative global community; the inspirational and humbling experience of having immensely talented friends and colleagues; the deep sense of appreciation for, and admiration of, the kindness of encouraging mentors, knowing that you could not have traveled nearly as far without their support; and the feeling of fulfillment that comes from participating in the growth of generations of students as they become colleagues — much as you feel as you watch the growth of your own children. Finally, the narrative is a portrayal of science as an international social enterprise that strikes a remarkably productive balance between fierce competition and deep collaboration, without which neither its global nor personal rewards can be achieved. It's a balance our politicians would do well to study.

Format: Hardcover
No of Pages: 180
Imprint: World Scientific
Publication date: 20210831

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