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Atmospheric science

What does it take to be a top scientist?

Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

When asking that question, you might get many answers: winning a Nobel Prize in your field, discovering a vaccine or curing a dreaded disease, securing multi-million dollars of funded research, crafting policy that saves a species, directing a multidisciplinary research collaboration, having a theorem named after you, editing your sector’s top scholarly journal, being identified in the top 2% of global scientist citations, or perhaps helping many thousands of students realize their own true scientific potential.

Yes. Those are all applicable answers. In my first six months at Mason, I’ve come to realize that I am surrounded by a cohort of top scientists and professionals whose inspirational work significantly furthers science in our community, our region, our nation, across the globe, even into the beyond.

I recently had the honor of recognizing dozens of our faculty and staff for their contribution to our collective scientific success.  Congratulations to the winners of these Dean’s Awards. Your meaningful work is noticed and appreciated. Submissions from peers or self-nominations were encouraged and you offered many worthy suggestions. Not on the award list this time around? Don’t worry. There will be many ways to receive recognition and amplification of your efforts as our days together progress.

Keep us posted on your scientific journey. Share your published papers, your grants, your new course developments, student successes, and your own personal milestones achieved. In the past year alone, our website, calendar, and press releases featured hundreds of stories of our academic and research efforts and our weekly Faculty Friday posts on social media have highlighted more than 80 Mason scientists on their road to greatness.

What’s more important, the journey or the destination? On our way to the top, we learn just as much when something doesn’t go as we planned as we do when it does. Keep striving for greatness – there are opportunities when it is certainly within our reach.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day benchwork, lesson planning, grading and data analysis. All necessary activities. Yet I would encourage you to also make time for events like the recent Celebration of Success activities or this week’s Virtual Celebration of Student Research and Scholarship to take a break from your daily grind, plug in, and be inspired by the scientific community around you.

During the upcoming break, you’ll have time to reflect on your answer to the question about what makes a top scientist and what you’ll be doing in 2021 to get to or keep yourself at that level. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

Visit the Dean's Blog for more insights from Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm.