As a trailblazer, how would you say the Gluon role differs from more traditional academic research roles?
In a traditional role you are an expert in a specific field, as a gluon you are an expert in boundary spanning. However, the wider academic field does not yet recognize it as an expertise in itself. Being able to engage with different problems, domains and expertise and being capable of understanding them enough for integration is a specific skillset. For example, yesterday I was involved in discussions surrounding urban electricity systems. I must somewhat understand how the electricity system works to be able to comprehend what he was saying, even though I have no background in this field of work. It’s dynamic work, but it can be intellectually and emotionally challenging to not only get a seat at the table but also for your role to be recognized.
What advice would you give to aspiring gluons who seek to make a similar impact?
What advice would I give to aspiring gluons? Making peace with not having to know everything about the process. Be open to experiment. It’s an adventure – you could describe it as being an academic nomad. You’ll need to set up camp in all these different terrains, and you are only there for a certain amount of time. It is essential that you get acquainted with your environment and surroundings, enough to understand the lay of the land. Over time you naturally develop a bit of a toolkit, you’ll become better at identifying the natural underlying systems and quicker in figuring out the methods that work. Being a trailblazer has its challenges, but it’s never not exciting.