Michael Springer

 

Michael Springer

Chemistry & Biochemistry Department
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO

michael.springer@colorado.edu

I began my academic career studying philosophy and sociology. Of specific interest to me was the field of ethics. I also started studying the history of societies and I began to understand the power of science to bring about changes in the structure of society and culture: from the agricultural revolution, to the working of metals, to the invention of the automobile. So I switched my focus toward science. I want to apply science directly to the solving of societal problems. In his 2003 talk at MIT, Nobel laureate Richard Smalley outlined the 10 biggest problems facing humanity for the next 50 years. Energy topped the list at number one. Finding a solution to the energy problem could potentially solve many of the other problems on Smalley’s list, as well: clean water, disease, lack of food, environmental degradation, poverty, education… Although developing clean, renewable energy is a daunting task, much headway has already been made with biofuels and wind farms. However, I believe there is only one permanent and long-term solution: electricity directly from the sun.

Upon acceptance to the University of Colorado at Boulder chemistry PhD program, I joined Dave Walba’s research group. I am currently making novel conductive liquid crystal materials for applications in photovoltaic cells. Although the doing of science is an essential portion of the path toward improving the conditions of billions of people globally, the funding of science dictates what research projects will be performed. The power of change, then, seems to lie in the hands of the politicians. I’m eager to learn about the politics of science and technology because I want to contribute to the discussions about what kind of science should be funded.