Philosophy

Nanoelectrode
Murine Cytomegalovirus Particles

Research

     As our opening page displays, we are passionate about the creative pursuit of new knowledge (what I like to call research). We believe that scientists are entrusted by society with two core job descriptions: Understand nature and use that understanding to the benefit of humankind. In our group, we value creative freedom to pursue some of our own ideas when deadlines aren't breathing down our necks. As a collaborator of the group, you will be certain that we are committed to learning your lingo because scientific discovery and progress require excellent communication skills. 

      I am invested in teaching young researchers (graduates, undergraduates, and post-doctoral fellows) the joys of pursuing new knowledge and exposing them to important scientific tools that can be employed to begin solving a variety of problems.

      I believe that freedom to creatively pursue new knowledge will ultimately forge the foundation for world-class research and interdisciplinary innovation that will attract, create, and retain young talent. I will also push my students across disciplinary boundaries to work with others and make discoveries that are not possible while working alone.

Education

Nobel Laureates at Lindau, Germany
Travis Heights Elementary School

      Developing coursework and teaching foundational as well as modern concepts are of equal importance to my pedagogy. I believe that a student’s knowledge should be evaluated on a quantitative, qualitative, and applied basis, with students displaying a quantitative and qualitative understanding of the material, but also applying their knowledge to solving real-world problems. My approach to curriculum development is introducing students to concepts from the primary literature and teaching them how to take basic scientific knowledge and apply it to real-world problems in areas such as catalysis, biology, energy, energy storage, medicine, materials, and other areas in which students are interested.

      Clear communication is critical for my work, and I am committed to transferring its importance to my students, as well. Effectively communicating science is becoming increasingly important in terms of reaching general audiences, applying for funding, and publishing research, but also in terms of recruiting students, post-doctoral fellows, and visiting scientists.

      My students will be expected to become proficient in communicating ideas, both scientific and non-scientific, in an effective manner. They will be given the opportunity to write about science for scientific and non-scientific audiences to ensure that they can adequately communicate their thoughts to broad groups of people. This training will undoubtedly help my students be productive members of society and allow them to begin taking on problems that may have broad implications on humanity.

Innovation

Lindau, Germany
Skolkovo Innovation Center,
Moscow, Russia

     Most of the information given below can be found in a story written about Jeffrey after being named one of Medical Technology's Rising Stars, found here.

     The key to innovation is being able to stay creative and being absolutely unafraid of being wrong. This sometimes requires trying something that everyone else has told you won’t work. I have learned that just because a person says something cannot be done doesn’t mean nature is in agreement. In modern-day science, making great discoveries necessitates the bridging of vastly different areas of academic focus, such as electrochemistry and virology. But we can’t stop there. The frontiers of human knowledge are rife with discoveries when disciplines are bridged, and the innovations that can come from those discoveries may have broad implications on society.

      On a more personal level, my parents fueled my imagination by helping me write stories, pointing out shapes in the clouds, and challenging my mind to make connections that were not so obvious. To this day, I have a hobby of thinking of ways to simplify abstract scientific concepts by finding real-world examples to make those concepts relatable to a diverse audience. My grandpa was not only passionate about science, but he was an extremely patient man – I can remember sitting on the phone with him for hours talking about science and the cosmos. These people had a great influence on my creativity and passion for creatively pursuing new knowledge.  I am also passionate about translating new knowledge into solutions for society’s greatest problems, such as diagnostics at the earliest onset of disease. My passion for innovation simply comes from the enjoyment of investigating problems that could have broad implications on society.

     Innovation requires immense attention to how science and ideas are communicated amongst scientific peers, government officials, entrepreneurial partners, and the general public. Perhaps the greatest challenge for me has been developing communication skills to begin having fruitful collaborations. On the other side of the coin, the education one receives out of a failed collaboration can be just as fruitful as one that proceeded to publication. When a person in science becomes immersed in another discipline, he or she quickly has to learn a new language and a new way of thinking. The communication of ideas becomes critical at this point. The happiest moments in my former collaborations occurred when one of us began asking meaningful questions about the other’s field of study, and we realized the most exciting answers were “That’s interesting – I have no idea…”

     Modern education emphasizes being correct over being incorrect, and there is very little room for students to be creative. If students are taught that failure is unacceptable, they will not succeed in innovation, where failure is necessary and a healthy part of the scientific process. The challenge is keeping young people interested in science so that they may have an impact on science and engineering, including medical technology. Up to a certain point in scientific training, young people must be given the intellectual freedom to creatively pursue their own ideas. They must be allowed to fail.

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© 2019 by Laboratory of Jeffrey E. Dick, All Rights Reserved

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