The Curious Engine of Discovery

"We’re always thinking, we’re always inventing, we’re always creating." Find out what drives researchers to constantly take on big challenges.

 |  Transcript [PDF]

Wonder and curiosity drive scientific advancement. Modern scientists and professors from Western University (Ron Martin) and the University of Toronto (Molly Shoichet, Eugenia Kumacheva, and Aephraim Steinberg) are working on everything from basic science and discovery, to the translation of this knowledge to practical applications that tackle big challenges and enhance our everyday lives.

Martin has been fascinated with diverse questions since he was a teenager. “We wonder why everything happens. Why does the sun rise? Why do kids look like their parents? Why do flowers grow from seeds?” – these are just some of the questions that motivate us to understand how things work.

Kumacheva, this thirst for knowledge is constant. She explains that as scientists, “We’re always thinking, we’re always inventing, we’re always creating. It never leaves us.”

Steinberg is most interested in the discoveries that led to major changes in our day-to-day lives in ways that we couldn’t anticipate beforehand. He explains that while discovery can have big impact, “it’s almost never done so with that aim originally in mind. Science can be turned into practical applications but only by valuing the science itself at the same time.”

Having worked in industry before starting her career in academia, Shoichet knows that universities are crucial to advancement. She comments, “I realized working in industry that if academia doesn’t take on the biggest challenges, then nobody else will. What we’re trying to do is really connect the dots from the basic science to the applied science, and translate them into products that will make a difference in people’s lives.”