The Making of a Scientist…

is the provoking as well as inspiring title of a Nature article published in 1966. Starting from a recurrent question posed by students (“How does one become a Nobel laureate?”) Sir Hans Krebs proposed a historical regression in his specific research branch constituting a sort of personal scientific genealogical tree. Without any doubts he recognized in mentorship one of the key ingredients for a fruitful research experience, underlining how “scientists are not so much born as made by those who teach them research”. The Author stressed how teachers are fundamental not for their knowledge or skills per se, but for the attitudes they can convey. And which are these attitudes? Selecting the object to be explored; interpreting and evaluating the results; assessing the potentials and limitations of skills and tools with a view to improving and supplementing them. But “the most important element of attitude is humility, because from it flows a self-critical mind and the continuous effort to learn and improve”.

As members of a growing network in 2016 we can find our milestone words in this 50-year-old paper: creativity, criticism, enthusiasm, time are other key concepts for making a scientist. Finally, let me conclude with the last crucial element… “One of the most effective ways of attaining a powerful (scientific) momentum is belonging to a team. […] What the team provides is a background of aggregate skill, experience and help. This background forms the starting point for individual enterprise.”

Will our network become also our “team”? That’s just on us.

Krebs, Hans A. “The making of a scientist.” Nature 215.5109 (1967): 1441-1445.

Davide // Zurich

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