Revolutionary Minds: The Ambassadors
September 30, 2007
Excerpted from Seed Magazine. The full text of “Revolutionary Minds: The Ambassadors” appears in the October 2007 issue of Seed, on newsstands now.
By Emily Anthes
Modern science is necessarily international, and geographic borders play a dwindling role in defining issues scientists take on: poverty, climate change, shortages of food and water. Here, in the third installment of our Revolutionary Minds series, we profile eight revolutionary thinkers whose global research has the potential to effect worldwide change. They exemplify what it means to work without borders, defying not only geographic barriers but also far more profound ones—those that seem to limit access to vital resources in so many parts of the world.
They are doing so by refusing to be confined to the traditional territory of any one discipline. When we set out to find researchers tackling the problems of water scarcity, climate change, or conflict, what we discovered was that today’s leading lights cannot be so easily categorized. They pursue peace by promoting conservation, conservation by improving human health, health by borrowing lessons from business. The most innovative minds we came across were consistently the most interdisciplinary ones. By expanding the boundaries and the reach of traditional scientific research, they are reimagining the world’s future.
The connection between malaria and water is indisputable—the mosquitoes that carry the parasite breed and develop in wet environments—but it’s not always intuitive. “More precipitation doesn’t really mean that there will be more mosquitoes,” says Arne Bomblies, an environmental engineering doctoral student at MIT. “If i