This time of the year the media is flooded with end of the year lists and retropectives. Science is not immume from this syndrome. So as you ponder (along with the rest of the self-absorbed world) your place in the universe, its not a bad time to read what others are saying are the Grand Challenges and Great Opportunities in Science.
This serves two purposes. First, if it’s in Science magazine, people are talking about it, and it reflects, to some degree the status quo. Part of being a scholar is knowing what the big ideas are in your field, since those ideas are the lingua franca of science.
Second, when you are selling your work (to journals or granting agencies) its not a bad idea to find linkages to what everybody else is talking about and what the status quo thinks is important.
Now, I know this might sound a tad jaded. Perhaps you are working on wombat tunneling behavior because, by golly, that’s what your passionate about. And that’s cool too. But part of teaching (and writing grants and journal articles is teaching) is creating the desire in you reader to learn more. And it certainly helps if you can relate your work to things everybody else is interested in.
Our work in the Antlab? We are all over bullet points one and two above.
h/t to Matt over at Ontogeny .