Unsolved Problems in Cell Biology  Biology 446  Albert Harris

For the sake of stimulating a discussion, please assume that you have chosen biological research as your career: How would you choose what specific problems to study?

1) Based on phenomena that you learned about in biology courses, about which interesting breakthroughs have been made in the (recent?) past? Study whatever is new in that subject.

2) Based on individual scientists who you liked most, or who stimulated your thinking. Find out what university they are a professor, and apply there. Try to get that scientist to accept you as a graduate student in their laboratory, and do what they tell you to do.

3) Based on laboratory methods and techniques (sequencing DNA, scanning electron microscopy, making time-lapse videos), and choose problems that seem likely to be solved using that method.

4) Based on LACK of progress in particular fields; That are over-due for breakthroughs. (Aging; autoimmunity; tooth adhesion and eruption)

5) Based on NOT being favorably impressed by scientists who are currently leaders in the study of certain important phenomena (i.e. so you think you could do a better job than them.)

6) Medical or economic (agricultural, perhaps) usefulness of possible discoveries.

7) Intellectual excitement of a subject. Are there questions that tantalize you?

8) Read current issues of Nature and Science; find out what topics are "hot".

9) Ask your professors what subjects they recommend.

10) Read textbooks, looking for major gaps in current knowledge.

11) Look for controversial theories, about which debates are currently going on.

12) What else...


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