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Where Do New Scientists Come From?

Photo of Jack Andraka from his Twitter feed

When we think of scientists, most of us picture professionals working in labs or in university settings.  But how did these people get to become scientists?  They were born into the world like everyone else and could have selected from a myriad different career paths.  The evidence does not suggest that scientists necessarily have children who become scientists.  Thus the reality is that “new” scientists come from the general public fortuitously, and this reality is often unappreciated.

Many researchers and institutions devoted to motivating the next generation, including for example, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national non-profit concerned with supporting “profoundly gifted students”, stress the importance of exposing youngsters to the latest scientific thoughts and discoveries through the internet and other sources.  The public availability of current, up-to-date scientific and technical information is essential in this regard and the benefits of its availability are tremendous. 

For example, a few months ago, Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Maryland developed a break-through dip-stick test to check for pancreatic cancer which has been shown to be incredibly effective (400 times more sensitive than previous tests), 90% accurate and extremely cheap ($0.03 per test). See the article detailing his discovery. Jack indicated in an interview with the BBC news service that the idea for his pancreatic cancer test came to him while he was in biology class during a lesson on antibodies and while he was independently reading an article on carbon nanotubes, a subject he was interested in at the time. He followed up with more research on...

Related Topics: antibodies, cancer, high school, labs, open access journals, pancreatic cancer, scientists, test


Explore Science from around the World at

Science from Finland, Sweden and Korea can now be found at, the global gateway to science. This brings the total to 32 sources from 44 countries that can be searched. The new sources include the VTT Publications Register and VTT Research Register (from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), the Directory of Open Access Journals (managed by Lunds University in Sweden), and KoreaScience (from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information). Visit and click on the interactive map to view science sources from every inhabited continent.

Lorrie Johnson

Information Services Specialist, OSTI

Related Topics: koreascience, open access journals, (WWS)