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Rigorous Scrutiny Meets Unrelenting Love
I’m often described as having great energy and passion for my work, and these are compliments I certainly enjoy. But I also know that occasionally it’s important to stop and to sit humbly before the mysteries and challenges that surround us every day. From these quiet spaces emerge the great questions that move research forward, the questions that direct the hard work necessary to solve humanity’s most intractable problems. My greatest asset – as a scientist and as a leader – is my unremitting sense of curiosity and my willingness to learn more.
This dogged determination to ask question after question served me well during my life as a scientist. I loved posing questions and immersing myself in research to see if I needed to start my study from scratch or if I could build on the strength and contributions of colleagues around the globe. I loved wondering about the kindred spirits who grappled with similar ideas in an effort to unlock the mysteries of human physiology.
I endlessly asked this particular question as the driving force in my work: How can I add to the body of knowledge that exists, knowing that I must construct testable hypotheses? I often ask myself if, in my quest to discern how the variables in my study produced observations, would I be able to apply rigorous skepticism about what I observed? Would it be possible for me to avoid cognitive assumptions, to use proper reasoning, and to refine or eliminate hypotheses based upon my research? In other words, would I have the humility to admit when an experiment failed, and would I have the courage to begin again with a whole new set of questions?
All growth, change and progress, indeed any redemptive work at all, must embrace the cycle of trial and error that is at the core of all scientific work. If you want to change the world, in the way St. Ignatius calls us to, you must match creativity and passion with faith and determination. I have thought of this repeatedly over the past few months as we have relied on the expertise of scientists on campus and around the nation, including the Jesuit-educated Dr. Anthony Fauci, to help us reopen the College as safely as possible in the face of a global pandemic. These good colleagues reignite the passion that has guided me as a scientist for decades and remind me of our most sacred commitment to our community: to never stop wondering; to never stop working; and to always serve the needs of a hurting world.
President Linda M. LeMura, Ph.D.
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