Human World

Brian Pollok on the USA Science and Engineering Festival

Brian Pollok: There’s not a ‘genetics’ for science. There are people that come from all backgrounds who become career scientists, who have an interest.

You’re listening to Dr. Brian Pollok, chief scientific officer of Life Technologies Corporation in Carlsbad, California. He spoke with EarthSky about the USA Science and Engineering Festival, expected to draw over a million people to the national mall in Washington D.C on October 23 and 24, 2010.

Brian Pollok: A vast array of organizations are involved. I was very impressed by the diversity of representation, not just in the areas of science that were represented, but the industries and the universities that are participants. There’s very much an interdisciplinary nature to the exhibits, and that’s important, because science and engineering today is an interdisciplinary enterprise. It involves combinations of biology with informatics, or engineering with chemistry and computer science.

Dr. Pollok thinks people should celebrate science.

Brian Pollok: If you think about the major technological advances that have happened in the 20th century, such things as vaccination, antibiotics, solid state electronics, the Internet, all were accomplished by people with a strong science, technology, engineering training. It’s essential as a society to have a strong group of people who have that type of depth of training in science and engineering and technology. And they’re the ones who bring forward the types of inventions and innovations that we all utilize in our everyday life. Without having people who have the knowledge to bring an idea into reality, we won’t have these inventions. We won’t have these types of products that make our lives easier and more interesting.

Dr. Pollok said that science isn’t as intimidating as it might look.

Brian Pollok: You can start to understand basic concepts in science at a very young age. I’ve had conversations with other scientists where I asked, ‘when did you start to learn about science and become interested?’ It tended to be first grade, second grade, even middle school. But by then, the die had been cast. And through exposure and just understanding rudimentary principals in getting certain types of phenomena and letting your curiosity bloom, it’s actually fairly easy to start to enter into asking questions that are very germane to problems of everyday life. How do you clean up an oil spill? What is the oil and the water together? And understanding that principle, of how one would skim it off, or bacteria that would eat it, or how would you remove it from the environment in these types of situations. There are everyday pressing problems that young people can turn their minds onto.

September 13, 2010
Human World

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