Member Spotlight

Dr. Neal Lane

Senior Fellow in Science and Technology Policy
Baker Institute
Sustaining Member since 2006

“The women and men who demonstrate leadership show, through their actions, that they care about people above, below, and around them.”

How do you define integrity?

The word integrity includes the qualities of being honest, fair, and exhibiting ethical behavior. Fairness includes ensuring that all people—women and men of all backgrounds, ethnicities, religious choices (including the choice not to be religious), sexual orientations, disabilities, or any other personal attributes that too often are a cause for discrimination—are treated fairly. Most of us experience circumstances during our lives that test these qualities. How we deal with those is a measure of our integrity. But I would stretch the definition to include being “humane,” which implies consideration of the feelings and circumstances of others. I’ve worked with many leaders—inside government, in academia, in the business world, and in other sectors. The women and men who demonstrate leadership show, through their actions, that they care about people above, below, and around them.

Has the ideal of integrity influenced you during your career, or has it gained importance for you retrospectively?

Integrity has always been my objective in dealing with circumstances and people I have encountered in my teaching and research and, later, in administration and government service. That said, integrity is an ideal that continues to be a work in progress. But I hope that those with whom I have worked would agree that integrity is a personal objective of mine. Of course, a successful career in science (and many other professions) suggests other characteristics—vision, passion, curiosity, perseverance, courage, determination, commitment, and drive—but without integrity, I believe, the others don’t matter much.

What interests you?

I am interested in many things and in many people—family, of course, comes first. The list is long, but it includes: most areas of science, most recently, geology and geophysics (rocks and minerals have been a hobby from childhood), as well as astrophysics and cosmology; U.S. policy and politics (pretty frustrating these days); photography (still could use some improvement); the underwater world (scuba diving, in moderation, and snorkeling). At Rice, I still give occasional lectures and work with students and colleagues at Rice’s Baker Institute on various science and technology policy issues. Beyond the campus hedges, I’ve joined many others around the country in an effort to get more national attention from policy makers and business leaders focused on science, particularly on the nation’s research enterprise, and to encourage efforts to improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of science.

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