I am returning home from two exciting days at the National Science Foundations where I have been taking part of a funding proposal review panel. The review process is an integral part of how science is conducted in the United States and being asked to serve on a panel is considered a tremendous opportunity to give back to the scientific community. This was the first review panel that I have participated on and I was quite anxious about the whole experience.
I sat in the orientation meeting, towards the back, observing, taking in the experience. There room was about half full. As people kept coming in, I saw some of the older members recognize faces and walk over and shake hands or hugs. Introductions were made, names were exchanged, it was like a reunion of friends who had brought their own friends along to the gathering.
At that moment I had an epiphany of what the term scientific community means. It is not this cold, calculating set of individuals who sits and passes sentence on the veracity of a particular new finding or that drives the acceptance of a new hypothesis. It is just that, a community of individuals from all walks of life; breathing, walking, sharing, egotistical, humble …
This is where I feel at home. In the midst of this community; scientists.