Studying, conducting, and supporting early stage science.
Leverage Research’s programs pertain to early stage science—research conducted early in the development of scientific fields, prior to reaching maturity. It is the institute’s hypothesis that early stage science is meaningfully distinct from later stage science, that it is a neglected part of the scientific process, and that greater knowledge of and more support for early stage science has the potential to contribute substantially to scientific and technological advancement.
Our three main programs—History of Science, Exploratory Psychology, and Bottlenecks in Science and Technology study, attempt to engage, in and apply lessons pertaining to early stage science
History of Science
An investigation into scientific methodology.
Our History of Science research program aims to understand early stage science by investigating the history of successful scientific fields. We conduct case studies of important advances, seeking to understand how scientists made their discoveries and enable a broader analysis of patterns in early scientific progress.
We study scientists like Alessandro Volta (electricity), Robert Koch (germ theory), and Antoine Lavosier (oxygen combustion), learning how they created new instruments, conducted new experiments, and developed new theories. We investigate how the scientists’ research was informed by past efforts, how their approaches differed from those of their contemporaries, and the surrounding contexts in which the discoveries were made.
New methods of understanding mental structure.
From 2012 to 2019 our psychology research program focused on developing techniques to assist introspection, improving methods for representing mental structures, and understanding how to use hypotheses about mental structure to produce improvements to well-being and effectiveness. We worked with more than 400 people to develop, test, and refine our methods. Throughout this research, we developed a set of introspection techniques and tools that we believe could be used as essentially introspective instruments to help researchers in psychology investigate important questions pertaining to mental structure and content.
The current focus of this program is on how best to release these methods and tools so that external researchers may experiment with them independently. This ideally will lead to the application and improvement of our research tools and the confirmation or disconfirmation of our hypotheses.
Breaking bottlenecks in science and technology.
Over the past decade, we’ve heard narratives of extreme technological progress and the absence thereof — singularity or stagnation. The reality is likely somewhere in the middle and also dependent on choices individuals make.
Through our Bottlenecks program, we are aiming to convene researchers, funders, institution designers, and creative thinkers to help determine how much progress is being made in different fields in science and technology, what the bottlenecks are to future progress, and to create the conditions for new ambitious projects that will break those bottlenecks.