Follow Your Star

The article “Follow your star” by Theoretical physicist Ulf Leonhardt (thanks to Prof. Martin Vetterli’s tweet) is remarkable in many ways. I will quote few inspiring portions, which are highly significant for early-career researchers like me.

What qualities are necessary to succeed as a scientist?

“Be stubborn. Believe in yourself. Don’t do what others are saying. Also very important is to stand up again and again. You will fall all the time. There will be disasters, small and great. Usually the first attempt fails, but you learn from it. Maybe you don’t even learn all the time, but from the beginning, you should not be afraid of failure.”

Advice for young scientists?

“What I have observed in some very good young scientists is that they think too much about their careers. This is all wrong: Build yourself, not your CV. Otherwise, you succeed in the short term, but then you may burn out and lose the fun in science. Young scientists should first think about what they want to do.”

“Know how science and the scientific establishment works, but don’t take it too seriously. Listen to what other people are saying, but don’t apply it automatically. Other people may see some aspects of your situation, but they don’t have the knowledge of it all. Only you have that.”

Have people tried to dissuade you from following your ideas?

“Of course, all the time. Whether it affects me or not depends on the people and the style of the discussion. If people criticize me in a nonscientific way, I completely ignore them because it’s not an argument. If it’s a scientific attack I take it seriously, and then I respond and I learn from it.”

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