Eric Wieschaus — The Social Life of a Scientist

LC: You mentioned in another earlier interview that one of the things you want to do as a scientist is join this sort of community and club of scientists, where people want to hear about your work and people want to talk to you because you’ve done interesting science. And I wonder whether, now that you’re an official part of this club of high-tier scientists and Ivy League professors, have you met any super cool people? What is that club like?

EFW: Oh sure. I mean, that’s my life–my friends, the people I spend time with. I have my family and I come from a large family of brothers and sisters and we get together and drink and tell jokes and do all the family things, and then other people that I interact with are largely other scientists or academic types and that’s very rich as an experience. 

It’s something that you don’t appreciate necessarily when you’re young, but you can notice it already when you join as a young person to work in the lab. Because you thought before that science was just all of these people measuring stuff and thinking hard and wearing white coats and not talking with anybody, but the big thing, the pleasure of science, is to hang around other people who are really interested in science and talk to you. And they talk to you and they’re interested in other things as well. And it’s very easy for your social life to become very rich but very limited because it’s mostly scientists that you’re hanging around. 

So yes, I know some really remarkable people who may or may not be famous as scientists, some of them have Nobel Prizes, some of them don’t, but it is a rich place to be–to live your life as a scientist. 

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