Basic Science and the Human Condition

Haven’t you wondered what scientists learn from fruit flies?

Explorations Scientific

Sperm from lines of red flour beetles genetically engineered to produce red or green "glow in the dark" sperm. Sperm from lines of red flour beetles genetically engineered to produce red or green “glow in the dark” sperm. I use these lines in my dissertation work on mate choice.

How does my research on mate choice impact the human experience? I run into some form of this question at least once a year in the feedback I get following the annual talk that I give to fellow students. This repeated question seems to ask why I engage in what’s known as basic science. The fact of the matter is that basic science can lead to huge advancements in solving applied problems. I also don’t believe that all research should be expected to directly impact the human condition, but more on that thought later.

Scientific research can be divided in many ways, one of which is by bifurcating it into the categories of “basic” or “applied”. Applied science, as the name suggests, is…

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