Spock: Science *and* adventure

On the passing of Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock from Star Trek), here is a 20-year old essay from real-life scientist Dr. Iain Woodehouse, which is still quite valid and pertinent today. Scientists definitely need to be impartial, unbiased, methodical, and open-minded about their work and research.

Forest Planet

To mark the sad passing of Leonard Nimoy today, I publish a short essay I wrote 20 years ago as a PhD student:


Spock personifies science. Spock personifies science.

When I was seven years old, a popular playtime game was play-acting Star Trek and it will come as no surprise to many of my current friends that I always played the part of Mr Spock. A taller than average frame, large eyebrows and a seventies bowl-cut made me the obvious choice. But perhaps it was more than physical coincidence that made me suitable for the role. And not just coincidence that I am now a qualified scientist in real life, currently in the final year of a PhD. Perhaps Mr Spock was really my childhood hero. And if he was — should he have been?

It is certainly not unlikely that Star Trek had a big influence on me as a child —…

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About WQ

I received my PhD (2013) in Remote Sensing, Earth and Space Science at the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, under a Fulbright fellowship. Currently, I'm an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Space Science at Institute of Space Technology (IST), Islamabad, Pakistan, where I have been a founding member of the Geospatial Research & Education Lab (GREL). My general expertise is in Remote Sensing where I have worked with various remote sensing datasets through my career, while for my PhD thesis I specifically worked on Remote Sensing using SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and Oceanography, working extensively on development of techniques to measure ocean surface currents from space-borne SAR intensity images and interferometric data. My research interests are: Remote sensing, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery and interferometric data processing & analysis, Visible/Infrared/High-resolution satellite image processing & analysis, Oceanography, Earth system study and modelling, LIDAR data processing and analysis, Scientific programming. I am a reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Forest Ecosystems, GIScience & Remote Sensing, Journal of African Earth Sciences, and Italian Journal of Agronomy. I am an alumnus of Pakistan National Physics Talent Contest (NPTC), an alumnus of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, a Fulbright alumnus, and the Pakistan National Point of Contact for Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). I was an invited speaker at the TEDxIslamabad event held in Nov., 2014. I've served as mentor in the NASA International Space App Challenge Islamabad events in April 2015 and April 2016.

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