The recent death of Stephen Hawking initiated many discussions between members of STEM-VRSE. In these discussions, the concepts of what research and researchers "are" became repetitive points for discussion. Unfortunately, many pundits have pontificated on his accomplishments in spite of his physical state and not on his life as a member of the human race. Stephen was more than a person in a wheelchair and mechanical voice, he was a researcher.
Archimedes, Zhang Heng, Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Kwarizmi, Al-Dinawari, Shen Kuo, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, Richard Feynman, Peter Higgs, Charles Kao, and Stephen Hawking. Who are these people? STEM researchers. Each of these individuals are recognized as great researchers in their respective fields. Many of these names will no doubt be known to you, others less so, but they all share two common traits: the human condition and a desire to understand the complex system we recognize as reality.
STEM researchers develop intimate relationships with failure. Researchers, are by the their nature, risk-takers and gamblers. We take the risk of creating potentially erroneous theories to explain the nature of our universe. In addition, we often gamble with years of our lives, interpersonal relationships, and personal gains to answer those questions that many others find little of no consequence. At the end of the day, researchers are fallible organisms trying to understand the unfathomably complex system we all recognize as reality.
Recently, two researchers supported by STEM-VRSE applied for National Geographic grants to conduct research in their respective fields. Neither of these grants resulted in external funding; regardless, both researchers carried out their respective research. Why? Because they exhibit the human condition and a desire to understand the complex system known as reality. Why does STEM-VRSE exist? We believe that the work of all researchers enrich the lives of all organisms within our shared reality. Each of these two researchers must now take their place on the long grey line of other researchers with the two common traits and begin their intimate relationship with failure. STEM-VRSE exists to ensure these researchers do not face that relationship alone.