The role of research


Working on hard problems is the form of mental struggle I actually enjoy. The combination of new ideas, old methods, and ambitious people can lead to incredible outcomes. This seems obvious but is in fact crucial.

Speaking of difficult challenges, I came across a list of the world’s hardest problems which really intruigued me. All of these seem like multi-lifetime conquests, but even reasoning about potential small solutions can prove useful.

The best way to start attacking problems is through research. Finding what you know, but more importantly what you don’t know sets a firm foundation for you to find a solution.


Since I’m young, it’s important for me to try out everything. At least that’s what my parents tell me. In fairness, I think they’re right for the most part, and the mental dance of flexing between disciplines has been enjoyable in my childhood as well as now.

I like to sample a lot of things right now, such as metagenomics, AI research, bio-security, congestion pricing, housing, and malaria. Because I have tried and am trying various things, I get to lie at the intersections of fields. That really excites me.

Intersections are where my ideas, solutions, and greatest intrigue comes from. By blending things that “aren’t meant to be blended”, you are able to go where none before have gone, and reach novelty.

Research → Product

The path from research to a product to improve the world is understated in both its feasibility and importance. In that way, I kind of believe that niche research is the most valuable.

Not only does it allow you to have novelty, it also allows for an easier entrance into the marketplace. Early adopters are fascinated by new niche solutions, and research lies at the forefront of these solutions.


  • Solving real-world problems is in my nature. It’s part of who I am and what I love to do.

  • It’s important to have variety in your research, especially when you’re young. This allows you to intersect fields.

  • Research can often lead to products. This works best when you research at the midpoint of novelty and importance.


© Will Carkner 2024

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