Dr. Lawrence Heaney is one of my favorite scientists, not only because of his work, but his obvious enthusiasm about it. I have had the opportunity to meet him several times and his passion for researching Philippine biodiversity as well as his energy in mentoring Filipino scientists is truly inspiring.
Dr. Heaney works with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and while he has studied other areas around the world, for him, the Philippines offers a fascinating natural laboratory and he has chosen this biodiversity-rich country as his major research area. He started researching here in 1981 and has come back almost every year to do field research, each trip a further opportunity to discover new things, collaborate with other Filipino scientists, and mentor young researchers.
Today I am thrilled to have stumbled upon an interview with him. There was only one question: how he became a scientist.
His answer was already an article in itself, as he talked about his journey in becoming a scientist, a journey that began from an interest discovered in childhood, which he went on to pursue pretty much the rest of his life because, well, as he said, “it was simply doing what I enjoyed most, and I found it to be wonderful.”
The full article can be found here, but basically, the key ingredients in his answer to the question are that scientists are made because they have:
1) a healthy, natural interest,
2) the opportunity to be exposed to their interest and learn more about it, and
3) the dedication to continue pursuing it, actually creating the opportunities to pursue it.
It’s a formula that can be applied to just about any field of interest, really, and I hope that with our twins, my husband and I will be able to offer them opportunities to discover their interests and nurture their enthusiasm in pursuing them.
To learn more about why Dr. Heaney finds the Philippines so interesting, check out my interview of him here.