Embrace Science

Q&A with Christopher Martin, Director of Physical Science at The Kavli Foundation


Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Favorite (or Most Recent) Movie or Book:
The Lord of the Rings (the book first, movie second)
Your 6-word memoir:
Embrace fun, embrace life, embrace science
Most unusual job:
South Pole Winterover
Programming computers

How did you first become interested in science? Who or what inspired you?

From a young age, I always wanted to learn how things work. My teachers fanned that passion and eventually I wanted to know how everything worked from the interior of an atom to the whole universe.

What is the question that most drives your work right now?

I still want to know how everything works, but I've realized the best way for me to accomplish that is to enable and assist other people in their pursuit of scientific knowledge.

What are you most excited about or inspired by in science right now?

When things don't​ work that can be an indication that there is something fundamental and new waiting around the corner to be discovered. Dark matter and dark energy are examples of things that currently seem to defy explanation, and I hope that something totally new and unexpected will come out of the resolution of those puzzles.

What is a common misconception about your work?

Science funders are scientists too! It is amazing how many people are surprised to hear that I have a Ph.D. in Physics, but to enable the best science it is important to be able to understand it.

If you could go back in time to the start of your career, what advice would you give yourself?

Embrace failure. At the start of a career, there is incredible pressure to have everything go well, but failures can frequently teach you more than successes.

What scientist, dead or alive, would you most like to have lunch with and why?

My grandfather, Frank Verbrugge, was a physicist who worked on radar during WWII but passed away when I was just 13. Now that I am older and would understand it, I'd love to go back in time and talk to him about his life and work.



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