Noelle Held, a PhD candidate in chemical oceanography at MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), discusses in the Orlando Sentinel why she’s proud to be part of a long history of American scientists and pioneers, and why it’s important to continue supporting science, particularly this weekend at the March for Science.
As a graduate student in oceanography, I stand on the shoulders of these giants. It makes me proud to think of them and look forward to my own future.
I go to sea to study the smallest organisms that live there — the beneficial bacteria that make up the base of the ocean’s food web and provide 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe. If you took a teaspoon of seawater from the coast of Florida and counted all the bacteria in it, you would find about 5 million cells (and you would be counting for a long time). We know so little about these tiny wonders, but one of them may hold the key to a new antibiotic, cancer drug, or detoxifying agent. The only way to find out is to learn more about them.
As Americans, we cannot take our scientific leadership for granted. Our success depends on maintaining fertile ground for innovation, risk-taking, collaboration, and freedom of expression. Generations of scientists have flocked to the U.S. to build on this foundation — from Albert Einstein, to all six of the American scientists who won Nobel prizes in 2016. Science helps us build safer, healthier, more prosperous communities. But, more importantly, science provides us with hope for a brighter future. That, to me, is something worth standing for.