After nearly four years of painstaking work, in 1902 Marie Curie produced one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride from several tons of uranium ore. It took her another eight years to isolate pure radium. The effort won her a second Nobel Prize and cemented her legacy as one of science’s most tenacious minds. “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done,” Curie once wrote to her brother, Józef Skłodowski.
Doing science, and doing it well, can be frustrating, tedious and messy. There are long days at the computer, finicky experimental setups, do-overs and dead ends. And for one researcher featured on the pages that follow — digging into goat poop. Yet this year’s SN 10: Scientists to Watch appear to take it in stride. Why? They enjoy the work.
For the fifth consecutive year, Science News is spotlighting 10 early- and mid-career scientists who are persistent enough to make headway on science’s big questions. Some are tackling problems of societal importance: studying how climate change will affect food supplies, for example, or trying to make education more equitable. Others are seeking knowledge to answer fundamental questions, such as how the chemistry of space gives rise to the chemistry of life. Members of this year’s group are developing new tools to see deep into cells or into the mind, and are finding new routes to green fuels (thank you, goats)