By Ronin Research Scholar Rami Saydjari 

I recently joined the Ronin Institute. Although I am a newcomer to the organization, I wager I am among the group’s older members. I am a physician, and in my early years, I focused on cancer research in a traditional academic university environment (grants, politics, publish or perish, etc.) with which we are all too familiar. Although I retired from clinical practice as a surgeon several years ago, I decided to continue research and perhaps write about various topics. As I began to investigate this possibility, it became evident that this kind of work was difficult without an institutional affiliation. Access to collaborators, library material, and even consideration by journals would all be limited without such an affiliation. I began to look for an organization that might support the endeavors of independent scholars who were, for various reasons, not affiliated with traditional universities and academia.

Enter the Ronin Institute. I ran across Ronin while searching the internet for just such an organization. I requested admittance and found the application process fast and straightforward. Once I had joined, I rolled up my sleeves and asked how I might help. I joined the infrastructure working group and offered to help as a facilitator when Arika indicated they were shorthanded at the recently held Ronin Institute-IGDORE Scholarship Values Summit: September 14-16. It was a great experience.

During this (un)conference, I participated in several deep discussions on various topics, including creating solutions outside traditional academia. Participants suggested that the community organizer model had much to offer as independent scholars and even citizen scientists sought to band together in search of successful workarounds from important things like grant funding and publishing their work. We spoke of how many scholars in the past were sometimes ostracized by traditional academics. Novel ways of thinking were labeled fringe ideas by establishment science, and research was hindered—such individuals had to struggle to be heard before being proven correct.

The current grant funding processes often seem asymmetric, favoring only those with a traditional pedigree from elite universities. Cronyism and other maladies corrupt what should be a merit-based system. Recent recognition of the Ronin Institute by US funding sources such as the National Science Foundation and others portend well for the future. By banding together, we can be recognized as legitimate scholars with valuable contributions to make.

By banding together, we can be recognized as legitimate scholars with valuable contributions to make.

Here at the Ronin Institute, I have found a diverse and growing community of like-minded men and women who have come together to fill this critical niche in the research ecosystem. I very much look forward to getting to know more individuals as I settle in.

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I was born in Barron, Wisconsin, in 1960. I completed an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Rice University in Houston and a medical doctorate at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston. While completing medical school and surgical training, I developed a keen interest in biomedical research involving cancer suppression. I obtained an MBA and worked twenty years as a private practice surgeon and healthcare administrator before retiring to write and enjoy time with my family.

This post is a perspective of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Ronin Institute.

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