Chief Science Correspondent
When I talk about my research on the Antarctic notothenioids, one of the questions I am asked is "Why?" Many have questioned why I would ever consider venturing to such a harsh environment. Others seem puzzled why anyone would care about these fish that few will ever even hear of, let alone see.
There is an expectation in our culture that science should be applicable to the real world. Most often, this translates to medical research. Earlier this year, two politicians released an article listing NSF-funded projects - real research - that they believed to be laughably ridiculous because the work was not directly applicable to medicine or technology.
A few years ago, a fellow scientist took a dig at me for studying "a random protein that nobody really cares about." And it's true, in sense: I'll most likely never find the cure for AIDS or cancer. That doesn't mean my research can't be valuable, or potentially yield a finding that is beneficial to society.