Young Scientists Shaping the Future
The development of human society relies on the continuous progress of science and technology. The rapid growth of modern science and technology has dramatically improved people's ability to understand, transform, and protect nature, as well as enhance their manufacturing capability. Nowadays, science, technology, and intellectual resources have become the decisive factors for economic growth. In addition, the advance of modern science and technology plays a key role in the development of productivity. Meanwhile, economic and social development has created and improved more favorable conditions for scientific and technological progress. The two interact and enhance one another.
It is common knowledge that scientists are at the peak of creativity and innovation when they are young, yielding numerous scientific contributions with profound impacts. For example, history tells us that Charles Darwin was 22 years old when he sailed around the world. Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz were very young when they developed the theory of infinitesimal calculus. Thomas Edison was 30 when he invented the phonograph and Albert Einstein was 26 when he came up with his Special Theory of Relativity. Nicolaus Copernicus was 40 when he proposed his heliocentric theory. Similar stories can be found in the development of the social sciences. Many outstanding natural and social scientists made substantial achievements in their youth.
A healthy research environment is crucial for the development of young scientists. No matter from a short- or long-term consideration, we as a society should offer these individuals the finest opportunities and resources for their growth. Young researchers often encounter inadequate funding and support to realize their scientific projects. Therefore, we should create more funding opportunities, specific programs, and collaborative networks to support their independence and fulfill their scientific ambitions.
More often than not, a young scientist spends an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks, not directly related to their research. In order to maximize their scientific output, we should find ways to optimize the administrative process, so as to yield greater efficiency. That way young scientists can spend their precious time on research, the key to all scientific breakthroughs. A vital driving force for the development of science and technology is major innovation, which often requires a substantial investment of time and effort. However, due to the mantra of ¡°publish or perish,¡± publication is often the key to promotions and funding sources, and young scientists can sometimes be tempted by low-hanging fruit. Therefore, we need to establish decent and equitable evaluation methods to protect their scientific freedom, enthusiasm, and ambitions, so that they can remain positive and pursue science with fewer distractions.
To ensure a brighter future for science and technology, we should continually improve evaluation systems to help recognize and nourish outstanding young scientists, pay close attention to their current status, and create a positive atmosphere for their career development. This is key to laying a solid foundation for the continuous development of science and technology.
Cite this article
Han, B. Next-Generation Scientists: Past, Present and Future. The Innovation 1 (2), 100037 (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.xinn.2020.100037