Mike Ko Personal Portfolio


Home-School Education
Hong Kong

University of Durham
Bachelor of Science
United Kingdom

University of Sussex

Master of Arts
United Kingdom

Science Vision

                        For the last ten years, I have been immensely fascinated by science. Perhaps it is mainly due to an innate interest in systematic, logical knowledge. Science’s ability to decipher nature and bring improvements to our lives is also an important reason.

                        Now I want to be a research scientist to further mankind’s scientific knowledge, especially on explaining behavior and understanding the factors that affect ecosystems’ stability. As I aspire to these goals, I do have expectations on how scientific enterprises should develop in the future.

                        Traditionally, most science subjects are highly partitioned from one another. Physicists, chemists, and biologists focus purely on things relevant to their own fields. Of course, this has changed greatly today, with scientists drawing upon knowledge from different areas. I appreciate the need for this inter-disciplinary approach. To understand nature’s aspects, one must consider various fields to get a full understanding.

                        This also applies to non-science subjects as well. Mathematics is an obvious example, serving as an indispensible, objective language in science. Yet if science can collaborate with more non-science disciplines routinely, then we can surely get greater advances in knowledge.

                        Scientific work can hardly be done alone. It often involves a whole network of colleagues, pooling their knowledge and resources together towards a particular goal. However, inevitable competition between teams, institutions, and even entire nations can limit beneficial collaborations. In order to be the first to make particular discoveries, researchers may hoard scientific information from each other. Yet if such information are publicly released, they can potentially lead to quicker or greater scientific progress overall. Hence those involved in scientific research ought to emphasize cooperation rather than competition.

                        Speaking of research, an emerging trend appears to be distorting our purpose for doing it in academic circles. Certain universities seem to regard research mainly as a method for improving their rankings. For professors, some often focus on producing research papers in order to enhance their personal reputations or academic standings. Yet in the process, they often neglect their profession’s tutoring aspects, to educate the next generation of academics. For students, some seem to think of research projects as simply the means to obtaining good marks. Yet the point of research is to gain meaningful insights. Successful execution requires vision on particular subjects and often leadership, but rarely hopes of achieving personal interests.

                        In addition, many scientists hope to achieve recognition or prizes for their work. Some may even value them more than their work and the insights it gives. However, such a motivation can cloud rational judgment, which is vital to science. Besides, most scientific research actually ends without success, as a scientist has once said in a TV interview. Thus a wish to conduct scientific work ought to be driven mainly by a desire for accurate knowledge.

                        While a strong commitment to research is important, it is equally important that scientists heed the happenings in society. Scientists are part of human society, and so should actively be involved in it. This is especially so when it comes to making decisions. Equipped with scientific knowledge, scientists can offer crucial insights on various situations. Yet it is not common to find scientists in positions that carry any authoritative weight around the world. Consequently, scientists should at least be more energetic in participating in governments’ policy-making decisions. They can even join government think-tanks to provide direct advice. By offering scientific opinions and even direct lobbying, scientists can help society take more rational actions.

                        Taking this social responsibility a bit further, scientists should also consider their work on global scales. There is no reason why scientists must confine both their vision and work within national boundaries. Increased communications and collaboration between scientists of different countries shall improve overall quality of research. Governments can play a crucial role in fostering such a trend. Instead of focusing on short-term national interests, facilitating international scientific work can result in greater gains for humanity.


Mike C. Ko
August 28, 2012

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