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Let curiosity be your guide

Minister for Higher Education and Science Christina Egelund's speech at the Villum Investigator-ceremony on the 17th of April 2023

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

In science, curiosity is often an important driver that leads the way to new discoveries.

As humans, we have a strong desire to discover more of the world around us.

We want to open the curtains to let the light in so we can see more of all the hidden connections. Connections that bring us knowledge we can use to improve our society and our quality of life.

When it comes to being curious, I would like to quote Albert Einstein who once wrote: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”.

The point is that a strong sense of curiosity can bring you a very long way as a scientist. It can take you down unexpected paths where great results are found.

Curiosity has the potential to fuel your ability to not only discover, but also to acquire new knowledge and to think creatively.

There is so much in the world and the universe around us that we do not know yet. So much that can still puzzle us and make us wonder.

And in science, we can take small steps each day that lead us to a deeper and more profound understanding of that world.

To embark on a journey towards new discoveries demands not only curiosity, but a lot of hard work and determination. It also requires time and funding, both of which are limited resources - as I am sure many of you in this room already know all too well.

But so much still needs to be discovered, and each new discovery often leads to even more questions to answer.

The extent of what we do not know yet seems to be almost to vast to fathom. That is why we need research in a wide range of different topics within the technical and natural sciences. Something I think is beautifully reflected in today’s grants.

You will take journeys towards discovering how to improve the 3D printing of metal components, how to use molecular and atomic clocks, and how astrophysical structure formation can improve our understanding of the flow of time and the age of the universe - to mention just a few of the amazing projects that are given a grant today.

We need to be among the very best research nations in the world and lead the way with ground-breaking research. Today’s 11 grants to scientists at Danish universities are an important part of that endeavour.

The contribution to excellent research from the VILLUM Foundation brings value to Danish research, and I want to thank the foundation for your commitment and hard work. It boosts new talents and skilled researchers alike.

I would also like to use this occasion to briefly applaud the VILLUM Young Investigator programme and the support it gives to young, talented scientists at the Danish universities.

We need to foster new, excellent scientists in order to maintain our leading position in research areas where we already have positions of strength. And we also need to cultivate new areas of expertise for Danish research.

At the same time, Denmark cannot make it alone. And science is – in its nature – international. We will achieve even greater results when we connect with the world around us. This is also mirrored in the diverse backgrounds and nationalities of today’s recipients. When we work together, we can amplify each other’s strengths and do even better.

With today’s VILLUM Investigator grants, you will be able to use your curiosity, your knowledge and determination and pursue paths where you see a potential for valuable discoveries.

I am reassured that you – today’s VILLUM investigators as experienced scientists – can wisely decide where you want to let your curiosity lead you in your work, and that you will achieve outstanding results on the way.

It is an inspiration to see so many talented scientists being so passionate about what you are doing.

You are all outstanding scholars, and you make a difference not just in your field of research, but in our society as well.

Science and innovation are vital when it comes to solving several of the major challenges we face. If we want to solve the climate and biodiversity crises, the technical and natural sciences are essential. Scientific discoveries in this field can help us move our society forward.

We need talented people to discover new knowledge, and we need people to make practical use of it in our society. Many companies innovate and create the solutions of tomorrow by doing applied research that builds on the results of basic research.

We need to support both basic and applied research as well as innovation, and we need close cooperation between public and private partners as well.

Together we can make a difference – not least if we let curiosity be our guide.

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last modified November 03, 2023