Like most investors, federal funding agencies tend to view risk negatively when it comes to research — they want to see proof before digging into their pockets. But, Proflike Substance asks, "when was the last time you walked out of a really good talk and thought 'That was some super cool data that came from a totally ordinary idea?'" Though they can be time-consuming and prone to failure, he adds, risky projects can offer up the biggest rewards.
Proflike says his own lab has reaped the rewards of taking research risks. One project, he says, "is evolving from something that was risky into something that will be a slam dunk for funding once we wade through the remaining data." Though it has taken nearly four years, "with many adjustments along the way, we're seeing the project come together the way we hoped it would," he adds.