Monday, June 11, 2007

My passion for research

Research is a human activity. It has its rewards and its costs. To be a good researcher one must love what one wants to do, enjoy the pleasure and bear the disappointments that come with it. We do research to acquire new knowledge. This was what professors do if they are to be great teachers. Research is a respectable and prestigious occupation. For most people research is part of continuous education to keep them relevant in their fields. There is a general belief that a person can be transformed from “rags to riches” through education. Unfortunately few ever became wealthy millionaires through research although many live comfortable and fulfilled lives doing what they like to do.

I wanted to do research so badly that I gave up many good paying jobs just to do research for a Ph. D. on a Shell Research Fellowship in 1952. My Ph. D. work gave me the confidence that I can produce solutions on my own. That was the most important thing my Ph. D. training taught me. I learned to think for myself. I am pleased to note that more and more students are doing research now. Unlike the undergraduate courses they have to do more thinking on their own for their post graduate degrees. We need more of these people to build our knowledge based society. We need more people with passion to do good research.

For 16 years after I graduated from the university I chose to work in the laboratories instead of at the desks. Even after I joined the Board rooms I kept my interests in research throughout my entire professional life and career of more than fifty years. I had my good and not so good days. On the whole I enjoyed finding new solutions to old problems and opening up new frontiers through innovation and development. I was able to do this through the positions I held and the institutions I created. To do this I needed something to motivate and drive me. I had both positive and negative factors that affected my life. The positive factors are the pleasures and satisfaction I derived from finding solutions, providing education and jobs, touching and saving lives of my fellow men. The unexpected recognition and acceptance from my peers, the Government and my community for my work is very encouraging and rewarding. The negative factors like fighting for equality and justice, defending my reputation and honour or fighting boredom, were just as challenging as the positive ones. Here are some examples that made me do some of the things I did. These are some of the situations which researchers have to go through. I hope you can learn something from my experiences. Be passionate and committed to do what you have to do and never give up pursuing what you believe in.

Lee Kum Tatt
5 June 2007

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could you also talk something about the differences between doing research and managing research?