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Deans Blog: Scientific history makers - What is our legacy?

This past week, we celebrated the start of the fall semester and our coming together as a faculty, staff, and student body— all connected by our shared mission and commitment to scientific academic excellence and research pursuits. 

Our annual ScienceConnect activities on both the SciTech and Fairfax Campuses provided us an opportunity to gather, like an enthusiastic homecoming. The events allowed many of us in the community to see each other after many months of working and learning apart due to our COVID-induced separation. 

It was great to see our community thriving in this way.

There was a healthy, positive spirit in the air during the festivities at both locations, perhaps stemming from the promise of the new and the comfort of continuity. Each of the department tables were a buzz with activity. Dozens of other groups of campus, college, alumni, and student organizations participated to share how they can best support and serve our community. 

A focus on unwavering service to our students is our North Star. As members of our community signed the 50th anniversary scroll during ScienceConnect, we’ve etched ourselves in Mason’s own history. (if you haven’t yet signed it, please stop by the dean’s suite to do so as it will be available for the coming week).  

As I watched the historic events of the last few days unfold in Great Britain at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, eulogies and condolences consistently highlighted her commitment to service. However, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the fact that there are many countries, commonwealths, and people from around the world that were irrevocably altered by the brutality of British colonialism. The pain and destruction of British colonialism continue to impact the ecological systems and economic trajectories of British commonwealths and former colonies. Accordingly, there have been mixed reactions to Queen Elizabeth II’s passing and the continuance of the monarchy that she faithfully represented, upheld, and served. 

As scientists who strive to make a difference and better our communities and world, we have an opportunity to examine, learn from, and leverage our histories (individual, local, and global) to create a healthier people, economy, and planet. We are encouraged to imagine and shape a brighter future and avoid repeating atrocities of the past.

We can be scientific history makers. Whether it be convening the American Society for Intercellular Communication (ASIC), a national group formed to share biological advances, the College’s Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Science and Engineering Center-facilitated regional and international researcher and educator groups to address mathematical, materials, and analytical opportunities to impact our future, or the Virginia Climate Center to examine and mitigate the climate effects on our world, our scientists are leading conversations and discoveries to address the major issues of our time. 

As we reflect on the events of the past week, take time to consider how we will be remembered by those whose lives we influence. We should work on our legacy day in and day out and be true to our goals, providing access to transformational, impactful scientific and academic excellence. 

FMW