Scientific Satisfaction and Remorse
The life of a scientist is not easy because it requires many responsibilities, ranging from teaching to supervising students, offering service, publishing papers, finding funding and dealing with all kinds of issues a scientist finds unimportant but are, in fact, paramount. Perhaps Declercq will, one day, write an extensive article or a light book on this matter for the next generation of scientists. Still, the whole range of activities and experiences has two extremes: 'scientific remorse' and 'scientific satisfaction'. Such questions once came up in a podcast and made him wonder about his remorse and satisfaction in science. Below are two examples.
Declercq abhors wasting his time, energy and resources. If, for instance, he facilitates science by sharing original ideas extensively with a person and then this person indefinitely postpones a continuation of the work or opportunely grips some of it in a minor publication or manuscript chapter without further continuation so that Declercq is blocked in his long-term plan to publish the idea and more extensive results in a proper journal paper, then he feels betrayed and his ideas hijacked. This is particularly so when he notices that the indefinite delay enables others to publish the idea instead, not to mention if the person in question publishes the ideas behind his back. He despises someone who abuses his confidence or does not stick to a promise. Unfortunately, despite his forgiveness, he never forgets.
More critical than remorse is satisfaction. He finds the highest satisfaction in witnessing an inexperienced student, eager to learn and grow, becomes a brilliant scientist and a self-conscious upright, respectable person with Declercq's investment of time and efforts. Supporting and observing such progress is the ultimate honour for scientists and teachers, not to mention humans in general. In this case, he gratefully takes on the role of 'eminence grise' and enjoys the success of his pupils. The sentiment is not limited to his students or co-workers but also his children and others who can count on him.