• Question: how will your research help humanity?

    Asked by 420BLAZIN to Andreas, Arianna, Daniel, Gergely, Imogen, Joel, Kanta, Mario, Martin, Mary-Kay, Nayeli, Ophélie, Patrick, Pawan, Priyanka, Raquel, Rohan, Sabina, Sami, Sam, Sarah, Tom on 22 Sep 2017.
    • Photo: Imogen Goold

      Imogen Goold answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      I hope I contribute to improving the way we regulate medicine so that we help people but protect them better from harm. My goal is to influence legal practice through my teaching and writing, and hopefully judges will read my work. I have had one article cited in a case, which was exciting – it felt like I might make a little bit of a difference!

    • Photo: Daniel Brown

      Daniel Brown answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      We are embracing artificial intelligence and wearable technologies to help people with type 1 diabetes improve their self-management. Type 1 diabetes is a difficult condition to manage, so any technology we can embrace to help make peoples life easier is hopefully helpful.

    • Photo: Ophélie Lebrasseur

      Ophélie Lebrasseur answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      I work on the past history of chickens, to understand how their gene diversity has evolved through time, and how humans have impacted on this. For instance, back in the past, almost no chickens had yellow legs! But today, almost every chicken has! This means that in the last 200 years, people breeding chickens have ‘selected for’ this physical trait, they manipulated the breeding of chickens so all their chickens could have yellow legs. Maybe because yellow skin and leg chicken taste better? Or maybe it was a cultural preference.
      But now, with so many mouths to feed, commercial breeders are selected for the biggest fattest chickens, and for chickens who lay a lot of eggs. The problem with these commercial chickens is that their genome is virtually the same. So what happens if a violent virus was to appear in those populations? It would probably kill all our chicken stock.
      However, the way we breed chickens is not the same all over the world. In Ethiopia for instance, chickens imported from the West usually die of diseases, but the local chickens, although not as fat, are very resistant. In Argentina, there is almost no poultry diseases, and the country is fighting to keep it this way. Part of my job as an archaeogeneticist is to understand the evolution of the genes that allow chickens to be resistant to diseases and preserve them for the future.

    • Photo: Joel Butler

      Joel Butler answered on 22 Sep 2017:


      The straight answer is that it probably won’t.

      The more hopeful answer is that by writing about past interactions and friendships between people from different cultures and backgrounds, I can perhaps convince some people that there’s no excuse for people not to be able to cooperate on our common goals.

    • Photo: Sam Parsons

      Sam Parsons answered on 23 Sep 2017:


      I hope that it will inform the way that we think about mental health from a positive perspective. Eventually, I would love it if my research in some way could inform the way that mental health is treated, and even better, if it can be used in preventative interventions.

    • Photo: Rohan Kapitany

      Rohan Kapitany answered on 23 Sep 2017:


      In the short term, and maybe even the middle term, my research won’t help humanity.

      Researchers are always getting asked this at parties (and on dates). The best answer I ever heard was a response with question: “Where do you think knowledge comes from?”.

      When someone claims a fact, if it really is a fact, it can usually be traced back to some scientist figuring what was real and what was not. So maybe (*maybe*) in the future my research will tell us something about the nature of humanity and the human mind itself. But in the short term, I’ll probably continue to be boring at parties (and on dates).

    • Photo: Mary-Kay Thompson

      Mary-Kay Thompson answered on 24 Sep 2017:


      I want to understand how the brain becomes the correct size with the right number of cells during early life. When something bad happens during brain growth, it can lead to brain cancer or other problems. So I hope that my research will teach us more about how brain development works and contribute to solutions for these diseases someday.

    • Photo: Kanta Dihal

      Kanta Dihal answered on 24 Sep 2017:


      My research will hopefully help change the way people learn about science. I’m going to start my research project on artificial intelligence in October, and hopefully we’ll find good ways to teach people your age, and younger, what AI is and how it’s going to affect your life.

    • Photo: Martin Pickup

      Martin Pickup answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      I think my research will help us understand what the world is like. I also think we are curious creatures, so understanding the world is one of the things we like to do. So, hopefully, my research will be a part of humanity’s quest for knowledge generally.

      But will anything I actually do make the world *better* for humanity, or for any humans? I’m not so sure about that, and sometimes it worries me. I usually feel a more direct positive impact from my teaching rather than my research. I still think philosophy’s cool and worthwhile (and I could say a lot more about this!), but being honest it’s harder to see the effects than in some other areas of research.

    • Photo: Priyanka Dhopade

      Priyanka Dhopade answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      With the effects of climate change getting worse everyday, it’s more important for us to come up with solutions that are benefit the environment. Air travel is so essential to the way our world functions today, and we need to come up with greener solutions that don’t pollute the air.

      Making jet engines more efficient is a key part of that solution. Even a small improvement in jet engine efficiency translates to huge savings in CO2 emissions, which is why so many companies & research institutions around the world are focused on improving jet engines in terms of lower emissions, noise, materials & manufacturing. And also coming up with new & creative ways to fly (like hybrid electric propulsion, and supersonic & hypersonic flight).

    • Photo: Sabina Fiolna

      Sabina Fiolna answered on 25 Sep 2017:


      I have no idea if my research will help humanity. It doesn’t solely depend on me, but I’m hoping that my research will give us better understanding on how much we are dependant on our environment and at the same time how little is predetermined by it. I’d like to convince my readers that our world is a complicated, never-balanced system where environmental problems need to be solved in unorthodox, creative and nuanced way with close attention to local conditions.

    • Photo: Mario Collura

      Mario Collura answered on 26 Sep 2017:


      I’m still asking this question and, well, I do not know… actually, whenever your research is about very basic questions, then it is difficult to know whether what you are investigating will never change our life or not. Nevertheless, the true research goes in this way: you tray many different paths without any constraint (researcher should be free from preconditioning), the most part will never bring you to something helpfull for the humanity, but if you are lucky then maybe…

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 26 Sep 2017:


      I hope that my research will help us better understand how the brain influences how we interpret situations. So the breathless people that I work with might be able to start on retraining programs that help to train their brains as well as their bodies.

    • Photo: Pawan Kumar

      Pawan Kumar answered on 26 Sep 2017:


      I think my research can contribute (may be a very small contribution) to develop new treatments for the many genetic disorders such as Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

    • Photo: Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez

      Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez answered on 27 Sep 2017:


      I don’t think that my research will help humanity, but it will contribute to our knowledge about infants’ language development; hopefully by understanding more about this process we would be able to help children having language difficulties.

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 27 Sep 2017:


      I hope that my research will help us better understand how to personalise treatment plans for people who are breathless. For example taking my patients who have lung disease, some of them feel more breathless than doctors say they should do and medicine doesn’t help them all that much. What we are finding out is that for these people their brain expects them to be breathless and so its like a spiral that gets out of control. We want to find out what brain networks are involved in this and decide whether people would benefit more from medicines or supervised exercise classes or even therapy to break those vicious cycles!

    • Photo: Raquel Pinacho

      Raquel Pinacho answered on 28 Sep 2017:


      I often ask the same question to myself! And with all honesty, I do not know. I hope it will contribute to help make better treatments for people with psychiatric disorders, or at least to understand the changes that happen in the brain in these disorders and how to prevent them.

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