Young researchers should not hanker after what is fashionable — the “trend of the moment” — but pursue only that which they find really interesting, Nobel laureate Roger Y. Tsien said. He was interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of the ongoing 97th Indian Science Congress at the Kariavattom campus of the University of Kerala.

The subject of research for a young scientist should be so gripping for him that he should be willing to pursue it even if no one else is ready to do so. “I love bright colours,” Dr. Tsien said as a pointer to his work that led to the Nobel-winning discovery and development of the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in jellyfish.


“Science should be done for basic curiosity. Science should also be done for useful purposes. One should not and need not be done at the expense of the other,” he said.

To a question on the lack of high-tech laboratories in India, the Nobel laureate said that he knew of a scientist in the Philippines who studied the toxins produced by a particular variety of snail that killed fish. That scientist had no access to a high-tech facility, Dr. Tsien explained, adding that the scientist used to point out — only partly as a joke — that his counterparts in the U.S. had no access to the snails that he studied.