This week, we've been asked a to ponder who we are as researchers and how to we plan to make a difference in this world of exponentially increasing information. Information is abundant, that is true, however, I have always been told that no matter how much I know, there's always more to learn and there will always been someone who knows something that you don't.
As a researcher, I gather loads of information and data, which then has to be understood and eventually applied to solve some problem. Changing the world is a rather ambitious way to state our goal here, but it is just that, just on smaller scale than the 'whole world'. As I really dive into my research, I realize I have a lot of work to do and I don't know what exactly we will find, but the work we're doing is important. Even if our group doesn't come up with all of the answers right away, it's important that we do the research so that eventually some one may be able to solve the problem and we can all achieve our goal of improving the world. Someone already mentioned this quote from Isaac Newton, but it's relevance can not be understated in the pursuit of progress,
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
Change happens in small steps and I really do think we have a chance to make a difference with what we're doing here. It may take a few years, but perhaps we can better understand how the watershed system works to produce such a toxic environment for the surrounding life and how social, political, and economic influences contribute to finding a solution. Whatever we find, there's definitely an opportunity to make some immediate changes within the community or maybe we find information that helps with other problematic water systems. Being a part of this REU, I have already learned that research is a lengthy process and solving problems through research requires the help of others. These little steps will lead to big change.