What Makes You Passionate?

Manavi Chatterjee:

The unexpected findings and the breadth of possibilities of exploration makes me passionate.

Rajeev Erramilli:

I love solving problems about the universe that no one has solved before, or otherwise coming up with new understandings of the universe that no one has had before. We’re just specks on a rock floating through the universe, so it’s kind of thrilling to do our best to understand it all.

Juri Miyamae (Earth and Planetary Sciences)

I am passionate about science because it is a way of engaging with Nature.  It is the pursuit of wonder through making close observations and asking questions.  For me, I love animals and other living organisms.  How they got here, the diversity of their bodies, how they carry out their normal daily lives – it always leaves me in awe.  And when you discover you are not the only one to say “wow!” because your colleagues at the latest meeting or some person who lived a century ago had a similar reaction to the same mystery – there is something I find quite beautiful and profound about that.  Science does have its many problematic aspects, but at its best, the experience of doing science and sharing what we learn from it can hopefully generate a greater sense of compassion, connection, and humility in the face of the unknown.

Martha Muñoz (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Like many others in STEM, I can definitely remember being passionate about nature as a child. Among my first memories are those that I spent at the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Gardens, and the American Museum of Natural History. Those experiences were really impactful for me. My passion for science began the first time I mentally flexed my wonderment reflex through these experiences at the museum and in the zoo. There I first felt my wonder and awe for it all.


It’s impossible to stand a few inches tall, for example in the AMNH’s Hall of Biodiversity without being awestruck, and I was naturally curious about it. I think that I’ve just been lucky enough to follow that natural curiosity into STEM.

Rowan Palmer:

I’m passionate about science, and more specifically engineering, because I love the idea of solving problems, working and thinking methodically, being innovative, and pushing the bounds of what we currently know and understand. Engineering is a way of thinking that helps us to better understand our world and to produce solutions that will improve it. I’m most passionate about this intersection of science, technology, math, art, design, and, most importantly, humanity. Engineering is a space where I can listen and learn about others’ stories, and create useful and beautiful technology that works for them. The human-side of engineering – the idea that what I build can be impactful, beautiful, useful, and cool – is what empowers me to keep going. 


Dr. Sreeganga Chandra (Neuroscience):

It [science] is a very creative profession that affords me the opportunity to constantly learn. There is also the discovery aspect of it, I can say “hey I really found something and it all clicked together”. Of course, it is also very frustrating….

Valerie Navarrete (Biology):

It’s so fascinating to think of something and wonder why it happens and be able to prove it.
Admittedly my relationship with STEM has definitely changed. When I was first taking classes, it felt like a requirement. I think that the best scientists are the creative ones and when I started to think like that, I started to feel more and more confident.


Chika Ogbejesi (Neuroscience):

I think in science the goal is to get to predictability. I love how solid and consistent it is and how it is a body of knowledge that keeps growing and growing, especially for neuroscience which is one of the few fields that is brand new.

Nazar Chowdhury (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology):

“For me, I think every person has their own place where they feel connected to the subject. I think I really enjoy it, that’s one. But more importantly, it is where I feel I have the most impact. My impact is so big wherever I want to go. I am sure you feel that way when it comes to electrical engineering. Medicine is a field that I found super applicable to just affect a person’s daily life. I think the patient-physician relationship is so cool that you can have so much impact in a limited span and really just change the course of someone’s life. I think that is what medicine and science in general stick out to me, the application.”