25 of the Best Motivational Quotes from Scientists
We’ve been posting motivational science quotes every Monday for a couple of years now. Why do we do it, you ask? Because we love digging into the wisdom of scientists past and present, reminding ourselves why the work we do is so important. And we love being able to pass on these little nuggets of optimism and motivation as we find them.
We’ve had so many brilliant ones shared with us, so we wanted to collect our top 25 into one great big inspirational blog for you. Bookmark this page for whenever you feel like life in the lab is getting you down.
1. “Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” – Robert A. Heinlein.
“Although from a sci-fi book, I think it captures the spirit of the scientific frontier,” says Martyn Webb, who’s studying for his PhD at the University of East Anglia.
2. “The reward of the young scientist is the emotional thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something or to understand something. Nothing can compare with that experience.” – Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
We’re sure every passionate early career researcher will agree! Thank you Dr Deborah Kronenberg-Versteeg from the University of Cambridge for sharing this beautiful quote from the British-born American astronomer and astrophysicist (who proposed in her 1925 doctoral thesis that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium).
3. “What you learn from a life in science is the vastness of our ignorance.” – David Eagleman
4. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." – Issac Newton
Kate Manley, part of the Prostate Cancer Genetics Team at the University of East Anglia, reminds us of the importance of acknowledging all the scientists whose discoveries have made our current work possible.
5. “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein
Thanks to James Cleland, PhD Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, for making this our favourite retort to: “Are you going to clean that up?”
6. "Our virtues and our failures are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.” – Nikola Tesla
It’s important to remember that failure is not only an inevitable part of life, it’s an inevitable part of success. Thank you Lab Heroes Runner-Up Elisabeth Paul, soon-to-be PhD Student at Linköping University, for sharing this.
7. “Impossible only means that you haven’t found the solution yet.” – Anonymous
Thank you to Lab Heroes Runner-Up Ettore Ambrosini, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Padova, for this mantra for those days when nothing feels possible. There is always a way!
8. “In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.” – Sir William Osler
Just because you aren’t the first person to do it, doesn’t mean it’s not hugely important. Thank you to Lab Heroes Winner Dr Enitome Bafor from the University of Benin for the reminder that there’s always a new way to see, understand, and communicate things.
9. “Every brilliant experiment, like every great work of art, starts with an act of imagination.” – Jonah Lehrer
It’s no wonder that so many scientists are also brilliant artists. Life science truly is is one of the most creative, beautiful industries to work in. Thank you Nina Lichtenberg from UCLA for this one.
10. “The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Chris Hoyle from the University of Manchester sharing one of our personal favourite science quotes here. I mean, we’re biased of course, but… can you really argue with that?
11. “Science is not only a disciple of reason but also one of romance and passion.” – Stephen Hawking
The late, great Stephen Hawking reminding us why we all fell in love with science. Thank you Elizabeth Thomas from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre for this one.
12. “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” – Rosalind Franklin
“[This is] my favorite quote that I have held onto since graduate school,” says Madison Fletcher, a postdoc at the University of California, Irvine. We can see why, and we love this too.
13. “All outstanding work, in art as well as in science, results from immense zeal applied to a great idea.” – Santiago Ramón y Cajal
We love this quote, shared with us by Dr Samantha Murray. It reminds us that our passion for what we do is as important as our ability.
14. “If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say.” – Barbara McClintock
Maria Diehl shared this wonderful quote from Barbara McClintock, cytogeneticist and winner of the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, with us. A brilliant reminder to always trust our gut instinct, and follow our curiosity.
15. “Above all, don't fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” – Rita Levi-Montalcini
Another brilliant quote shared by Maria Diehl. Rita Levi-Montalcini won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with colleague Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor. So we’re definitely inclined to take her advice.
16. “Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.” – Albert Szent-Györgyi
17. “If you want to have good ideas, you must have many ideas.” – Linus Pauling
“It sums up my scientific method,” says Stuart Maudsley from the University of Antwerp.
18. “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” – Stephen Hawking
If you’re ever struggling with motivation, it helps to remember how remarkable you are just for being human! Thank you James Quinn from the University of Manchester the reminder.
19. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
This quote, shared by postdoc Christina Murray from UCL, feels especially pertinent right now.
20. “Science means constantly walking a tightrope between blind faith and curiosity; between expertise and creativity; between bias and openness; between experience and epiphany; between ambition and passion; and between arrogance and conviction – in short, between and old today and a new tomorrow.” — Henrich Rohrer
Thank you Adriana Humanes from Newcastle University for the reminder of how important and unique our work as scientists is.
21. “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.” – Louis Pasteur
This one’s from our Head of Product Development James Flanaghan. As an international business committed to championing and connecting life scientists all over the world, we couldn’t love this sentiment more.
22. “When kids look up to great scientists the way they do musicians, actors [and sports figures], civilization will jump to the next level.” – Brian Greene
Thanks to our Head of US Operations, Paula Klockner, for this one! Maybe we WILL realise our dreams of being scientists / rock stars after all...
23. “The important thing is to never stop questioning [or learning].” – Albert Einstein
Another great quote that’s one of Paula’s favourites, and one to remember when we feel too scared to ask that burning question. We’re all still learning, no matter how far along our career path we are. That’s the beauty of science.
24. “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” – Albert Einstein
Yep, this is our third Einstein quote of the article. But you can’t deny the guy knew what he was talking about! This quote shared by our Head of Chemistry Dr Richard Patterson reminds us of the importance of thinking outside of the box.
25. “I am among those who think that science has great beauty.” – Marie Curie
What better sentiment to end on than this? This is one is our Director of Marketing Dr Sam Roome’s favorite quote. Because science is sometimes hard, and messy, and complicated, and frustrating… but at its core, it’s absolutely beautiful.
What science quotes do you have pinned up in your lab?
Share them with us on Twitter at @hello_bio
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out the other resources available on our blog. As well as trying to promote diversity in science, we're passionate about supporting early career life scientists and PhD students - with affordable reagents and biochemicals, travel grants, and resources to help with both personal and professional development. We know how tough it is - so we hope you find these helpful!
Advice & guidance for life scientists
Click below to view our of essential guides and articles includes to support life scientists, PhD students & early career life scientists:
Wellbeing for scientists
Click below for our resources to help improve your wellbeing:
Every month we give away $500 to PhD students and Postdocs so that they can attend a scientific conference - click below to find out more:
Try our Molarity Calculator: a quick and easy way to calculate the mass, volume or concentration required for making a solution.
Try our Dilution Calculator: an easy way to work out how to dilute stock solutions of known concentrations
Click below to see our Mini-reviews, Pathway Posters & Product Guides: a set of technical resources to answer your questions on a wide range of topics and to help you get started quickly.
And - when you get to the stage of planning your experiments, don't forget that we offer a range of agonists, antagonists, inhibitors, activators, antibodies and fluorescent tools at up to half the price of other suppliers - click below to see how we compare with other suppliers: