Failure: Stories about failing in science

The Story Collider

19-01-2024 • 28分

In science, failure is as important as success. In this week’s episode, our storytellers share times when they failed at science or science failed them. Part 1: Samuel Scarpino is convinced that the paper he wrote about how hard it is to predict infectious diseases should win a Nobel Prize. Part 2: It’s grad student Moronke Harris’ turn with the deep-sea robot that no one can find, and she needs to conduct her research.. Samuel V. Scarpino, PhD, is the Director of AI + Life Sciences at Northeastern University and a Professor of the Practice in Health and Computer Sciences. He holds appointments in the Institute for Experiential AI and the Network Science, Global Resilience, and Roux Institutes. In recognition for his contributions to complex systems science, he was named an external Professor at the Santa Fe Institute in 2020. Prior to joining Northeastern, Scarpino was the Vice President of Pathogen Surveillance at The Rockefeller Foundation, Chief Strategy Officer at Dharma Platform (a social impact, technology startup), and co-founded a data science initiative called, which was backed by Google and The Rockefeller Foundation. Scarpino is a regular presence in the news, providing over 500 interviews to outlets such as Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, Vice News, The Atlantic, and NPR. He has authored more than 100 academic publications, which have been cited over 8,000 times. Scarpino’s work has appeared in journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, PNAS, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and Nature Physics. The New York Times, Wired, the Boston Globe, National Geographic, and numerous other venues have covered his research. Moronke Harris ( is a deep-sea explorer and oceanographer with experience in climate engineering, blue economy, and intergovernmental (Canada, USA, Russia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea), multi-vessel research expedition planning in the high seas. Currently completing a PhD in Oceanography at the University of Victoria (BC, Canada), her research focuses on the most unexplored areas of the ocean, containing the most potential for discovery. Moronke specializes in the alien world of seafloor superheated geysers: hydrothermal vent ecosystems 1000-4000 m under the ocean's surface. She has spent over 110 days of her life exploring Earth's final frontier. Beyond academic pursuits, she is the founder of ‘The Imaginative Scientist’ ( a science communication and creative consulting brand blending traditional outreach and artistry to produce an audience-first approach that engages, invites, and inspires curiosity. Brand experience includes 50+ national and international speaking engagements, video production and content creation collaborations garnering 50,000+ views, and consultation for gallery installations, video game development, and film production. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit