More than Science
As I was talking with a student for a story in this issue of Terra, he suddenly dropped his voice. “No one knows this,” he said. “I was very glad to be in this lab because the people helped me through some difficult times. They are awesome.
“A lot of students have this mid-college crisis,” he continued. “When they are just getting out of high school, they think they know what they want to do. And then they realize that’s not the case. That happened to me. But the people here kept me grounded. I could turn to them. It was something stable in my life that helped me tremendously.”
I marvel at students’ willingness to challenge themselves, to master subjects that take them way outside their comfort zones. But as I talk with them, it doesn’t take long to realize they’re not doing this work alone. Their mentors — scientists, lab managers and peers — support them much of the way. Sure, the science is front and center, but research team members often develop deep connections with each other. They become a family away from home.
For many students, such friendships are among the most valuable outcomes of doing research. College life and the complexity of the natural world can be intimidating. Skilled, caring mentors help students professionally and socially and enable them to gain confidence and trust in their own abilities.
In this issue of Terra, we take you through a diverse landscape: research diving from the Pacific to the South Atlantic, archaeological discovery in Idaho, growing threats to privacy, treatment for blood disease, an emerging nuclear partnership and the promise of new medicines from fungi. In every case, students are making real contributions and solving problems. Yes. Awesome.
— Nick Houtman, Editor