By Peter Walter and Dyche Mullin
Two 17th century institutions—learned societies and scientific journals—transformed science in ways that still dominate our professional lives today. Learned societies like the American Society for Cell Biology remain relevant because they provide forums for sharing results, discussing the practice of science, and projecting our voices to the public and the policy makers. Scientific journals still disseminate our work, but in the Internet-connected world of the 21st century, this is no longer their critical function. Journals remain relevant almost entirely because they provide a playing field for scientific and professional competition: to claim credit for a discovery, we publish it in a peer-reviewed journal; to get a job in academia or money to run a lab, we present these published papers to universities and funding agencies. Publishing is so embedded in the practice of science that whoever controls the journals controls access to the entire profession. We must reform our methods for evaluating the contributions of younger scientists and deflate the power of a small number of “elite” journals. More generally, given the recent failure of research institutions around the world to strike satisfactory deals with publishing giant Elsevier, the time has come to examine the motives and methods of those to whom we have entrusted the keys to the kingdom of science…
HHMI Bulletin – Fall 2015
Harnessing Serendipity by Esther Landhuis
Along unpredictable paths to discovery, Peter Walter has maintained a sure-footed approach – to the science as well as to the people he mentors …
This article features videos of interest including:
- “Squeezing Time for Art” – Peter shares some of the pieces of art he has created and the stories behind them.
- “What is the Unfolded Protein Response” – Curious about the Unfolded Protein Response? Learn more from this video.
- “The 2015 Vilcik Prize in Biomedical Science Video” – The Vilcek Foundation produced this video which captures a bit about a day in the life of Peter and our lab. We thank them for their generosity.
Walking Along the Serendipitous Path of Discovery by Peter Walter
Students entering graduate school often ask for the “recipe for success.” Yet looking back at the events that shaped my own career, both personal and scientific, I continue to be amazed by the convoluted paths, which are neither linear nor predictable. This is a difficult message to transmit to those embarking on a research career, and it invariably prompts the next question: “So you say that our success in science will be determined by dumb luck?” Not so—it’s serendipity, a word that much better describes our path to discovery. It is not uncommon that initially disappointing turns lead to unexpected outcomes that then miraculously align to appear as a progression of incredibly good fortune …