Make your life more interesting: Walter Willett on new connections for unsolved health challenges

In a recent interview, Harvard Nutrition Professor Walter Willett was asked, “What advice do you have for a young researcher starting out today?” Here’s his reply:

I found it tremendously useful to have had experiences from a wide variety of fields that may sometimes seem disconnected. However, that’s where the interesting new connections often arise and how we can bring a different perspective to an unsolved problem. This may not work for every field, but at least for [those going into] public health, I would encourage a young researcher to take every opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. That may turn out to be very useful in an unpredictable way, and if not, it will have made your life more interesting. Obviously, we need to dig down deeply into our research topic, but too often we’re only told to focus, focus, focus. Finding the right balance between focusing and having a broad perspective is critical.  (Harvard Gazette, May 15, 2014)

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