Look Inward for Passion, Outward for Opportunity

He was inspired by "reading weird stuff as a schoolboy"; now he's seeking out every available chance to ask questions and get answers.


Laurence Harris is a Professor of Psychology, Kinesiology and Health Sciences, and Biology at York University. He studies how visual perception changes in outer space. We asked everything from what he finds most rewarding about being a researcher to his advice to the next generation in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?

The freedom to explore; the rewards of seeing students mature into scientists; setting up equipment and programs and then seeing them run, being the first to know the answer.

What advice would you give young researchers?

Look inwards to find what you really want to do. Look outwards to find the opportunities to do it.

What inspired you to become a researcher?

Reading weird stuff as a schoolboy, doing cool experiments as a student, and becoming a member of a wonderful community as an adult.

What do you like to do for fun? 

Being a peripatetic scientist.

What’s your favourite cuisine?

Something shared, like Indian or Chinese.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?

Something that was not driven by money, that involved teamwork, that could be done in my own time and at my own pace, that provided the opportunity to learn and teach, and did not involve killing people.

Any ideas?

If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?

Well, to be interesting, I would have to have something in common with them, so I think it would have to be a perception scientist, which kind of restricts it to dead white males.

René Descartes would be interesting, but I am not sure my French or Latin would be up to it. Hermann von Helmholtz would be intimidating. Johann von Goethe would be exhausting. Jan Purkinje would be amazing. Bishop George Berkeley would probably be good to go to dinner with, but quite frankly, the most interesting scientists are probably those alive today, standing on their shoulders.

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Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on world-class scientists engaged in innovative and leading edge research in Canada. Our video series is continually updated to celebrate the success of researchers who are establishing the new frontiers of science and to share the impact of their discoveries with the public.