Research is a decidedly optimistic endeavor. To ask an important question, knowing that if all goes really well we just might find an answer, is an expression of faith in our means of inquiry and our capacities for observation and insight. If we expected the workings of nature, or the motivations of the human heart, or the challenge of their coexistence to yield easy answers, we would be, as they say, in another business.
Research is also a decidedly brave endeavor. Our findings may delight or devastate. This is not an endeavor for the faint of heart or for seekers of quick affirmation. It requires being OK with critique, OK with findings that make you uncomfortable, OK with challenging power, OK with the fact that revising our understanding is a long-haul effort.
Our world calls for such optimism and bravery, and for new resolve. In the past two years, we’ve witnessed the denouement of a decades-long quest to go, in mere months, from viral genome to working vaccine. Equally, we’ve been reminded of the limits of technological capacity alone, of the ways in which nature pushes back when we overreach, and we’ve been reminded of the importance of how we see ourselves in relation to nature and to each other.
This issue of the Lehigh Research Review illustrates, as always, the ability of scholarly work to delight and to devastate, to uncover thrilling new possibilities, and to surface truths about ourselves and our world—both gratifying and troubling—that plead for our attention. We invite you to read about the work of our talented researchers, who continue to offer inspiration and insight through the most challenging times.
Alan J. Snyder
Vice President and Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs