Graduate student comments on stewardship science

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Physics graduate student Stephanie Lyons was asked byStewardship Science, the SSGF Magazine (published annually by the Krell Institute for the NNSA Office of Defense Science’s Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship program) to comment on what drew her to science and why stewardship is important. Lyons is a recipient of the Graduate Fellowship from the Krell Institute. Lyons says, “To lead the way, scientists should give back to the community through communication and outreach.” Find the full article here: A Science Nerd Spreads the Word.


Reprinted here:

A Science Nerd Spreads the Word

Stephanie Lyons Second–Year Fellow

I’ve always been a science nerd. When my second grade teacher asked, “And what do you want to be when you grow up? ” I answered, “I want to be an entomologist!” Not knowing what an entomologist was, she replied, “Oh. Umm, well, that’s nice.” As my fear of spiders and other creepy–crawlies grew, my interest in being an entomologist waned and my aspirations shifted toward forensic expert, geneticist and finally to physicist.

A turning point came in my senior year of high school, when I reluctantly took an introductory physics course. As the semester began, I noticed correlations between it and my calculus class. Simple equations that could model a baseball’s flight through the air or a particle’s motion in a cyclotron fascinated me. In college I started a double major in physics and biology, then dropped biology. After working in the University of Notre Dame’s nuclear structure lab one summer, I was hooked.

During my first year of graduate studies, I saw that family members and nontechnical friends held misconceptions about what scientists do and what science can provide. Without science, many wonderful devices and technologies — from cell phones and transportation to life–saving medical equipment — would be impossible. Yet when it comes to energy resources, public fears hinder technology’s advancement. Being able to communicate possible advances and breakthroughs is what drew me to stewardship science, and I have since become active in science outreach events at and around Notre Dame. People must better understand scientific advances to make informed decisions in their day–to–day lives. In this sense, all science can be steered toward stewardship. To lead the way, scientists should give back to the community through communication and outreach.