The Winter Bear 2.24.23

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff, One of my favorite books (geared to all of us young readers) is The Winter Bear. It has lovely illustrations, perfect for this time of year, where the skeletons of trees stand out, there are bits of snow, and a pale sun. It’s also a perfect story because the arc is so clear: three children go for a walk, find a stuffed bear stuck in a tree, run home amidst a sudden snowstorm, and install the bear in a cozy armchair. Any story with a clear arc is satisfying, even comforting, where the beginning, middle and end are seamlessly linked. (There is a beautiful song of similar name with a pretty good arc, if you look). A perfect arc around what we do in Science can also be deeply satisfying, and as many of you know, great teaching goes there. The Introduction to each lecture can set the stage, the middle can offer interesting nuggets of information interspersed with activities to engage students, and the wrap up can encapsulate key points. Teaching a course through the semester is more complex, of course, more like writing a book or making a journey. To me, the semester seems like boarding a train that goes really fast, stops seldom, and may move onto a side-track for a while. Between stops are the stories – those lectures or lab sessions with perfect arcs. But unlike a story which can truly be completed, teaching never is, and your course likely evolves each semester, as world events or groundbreaking research findings impact what you teach, and innovations in learning suggest how you teach. Thank you for your teaching, for making the journey, and for providing the highest quality Northeastern science education. Amongst complex Science storytelling, research is a bit different again. Every research thread is part of a never-ending story, often stretching back decades or centuries to a murky beginning. We break up the research into publishable bits, and try to frame each with a solid conclusion, that is never final, more the end of a chapter, with a cliff-hanger ending. What’s next? Can the findings reported go on to uncover whether a predicted particle actually exists, or whether a designer molecule actually prevents bacterial infection? It takes many chapters, many publishable bits even to find technologies and analyses that can begin to answer the questions. The arc for a great research story stretches way from the past, and connects way into the future, without an ending. Thank you for your work in ‘writing’ the highest impact Science research. Our story arcs in education and research in the College of Science are huge, and often incomplete, but more exciting than any illustrated story! Thank you for contributing these to build the Good Power of Science.