• Question: why did you choose the topic you do in science?

    Asked by emmasaur to Daniela, Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 20 Jun 2013. This question was also asked by radsare1005, mkj9.
    • Photo: Mark Hodson

      Mark Hodson answered on 20 Jun 2013:

      Hi Emma,

      at University I studied rocks and I chose that because it involved bits of biology, chemistry and physics which I enjoyed but didn’t want to do as pure subjects at University. It also involved lots of field trips and I like being outdoors.

      I enjoyed my first degree so much that I stayed at Uni and did another one, a PhD like the rest of the guys are doing now. I did mine on magma chambers – liquid rock below volcanoes – because it was cool and I got to do field work in Greenland.

      After the PhD I did a few temporary science jobs working as what is called a Postdoctoral (i.e. after your PhD or doctorate) research assistant. For these posts there is less choice in what you do as you are applying for advertised jobs to work on particular things. In my case acid rain and then contaminated soil.

      Finally after that I got a permanent job as a lecturer – so doing some teaching and some research – which gives you more freedom to do research into what you want, provided you can persuade someone to give you the money to do it. It’s funny that at University part of a lecturers job is to do research but you have to find the money from somewhere to do the research.

      So I’ve ended up working on earthworms in soil because they fascinate me but also, in part because people will give me the money to do the research.



    • Photo: Daniela Plana

      Daniela Plana answered on 20 Jun 2013:

      Hi radsare1005 and emmasaur!

      I originally chose to do a Chemistry degree at Uni, because I really enjoyed my chemistry lessons at GCSE and A levels… I could understand the lessons and liked figuring it all out. In my final year at University I had to do a research project and decided to do it on Electrochemistry because I liked the teachers in that research area and I enjoyed their lessons… it seemed to me that it was the type of chemistry that was all about figuring out how things work, why and how we could make them better.

      I enjoyed that year of research in the lab and so decided to carry on to do a PhD and it made sense to do it in the same area, as I had some of the knowledge and knew I would enjoy learning more!

      One of the things I like the most about Electrochemistry is how versatile it is, which means it can be used for tons of different things! In the few years I’ve been working on it, I’ve had the chance to work on water decontamination, fuel cells, transformation of CO2 to useful things, making metal nanoparticles (really tiny beads of metal that you can only see using special microscopes)… I also get to play with many different materials, all sort of metals like gold, platinum, copper, but also diamonds, carbon nanotubes, polimers, etc.

      What part of science do you guys like best??

    • Photo: Jono Bone

      Jono Bone answered on 21 Jun 2013:

      Hi Emma,

      I studied Biology at university and have always been fascinated my evolution and animal behaviour. At university I took a class in the Evolution of Animal Behaviour and loved it. I really enjoy trying understand why behaviours could have evolved because its often less obvious than with anatomical traits.
      It was partly luck that I found a supervisor in London that studied the evolution of cooperation and could take me as her student.

    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 21 Jun 2013:

      Hi Emmasaur and radsare 1005,
      So one day I was at home and a song popped into my head and I could hear every single word, instrument, tune and the voice of the singer to the detail. But I tried singing it back and it did not sound like what I was hearing lol.

      I thought to myself, how is the brain remembering this song, how is it doing it in so much detail? and why is it doing it. I also read that a woman in America has had a song stuck in her head for 10 years……10 YEARS???!!! must have been her favorite song lol.

      So I got curious…..how does the brain store, hear and create sounds. This got me interested in ringing in the ears.

      Ringing in the ears, if it happens all the time can make people really upset and alone. It can sound like an alarm bell going off in your head 24/7. If I can find a cure for this, then I can help a lot of people.
      Being able to hep a lot of people in this world, is the greatest thing a scientist can do.

    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 21 Jun 2013:

      Hi emmasaur and radsare1005,

      Well, I decided to become a Biologist quite late on in school. I originally wanted to do Chemistry but I found it increasingly difficult as I went on through my A-Levels. I was quite good at it and really enjoyed it but had to work so hard to keep up and I didn’t think I’d be able to cope at university.
      By that point I’d already dropped Physics to focus on ICT so that left Biology, which I realised I absolutely loved! I’m fascinated by the way different organisms interact with the environment, and evolution, and parasites – everything basically! Except biochemistry *shudders*

      When I was looking at Biology courses for uni, my Biology teacher suggested picking a general course so I could pick a part of Biology later on. This was fantastic advice because I found out I loved microbiology, when I hadn’t even thought about it at university. And that’s what I went on to do – I’m just excited and interested by Microbiology and that’s the most important thing with science. You need to be enthusiastic about what you’re working on. I’ve gone onto do more Genetics-based work now but that’s because the project I chose needs a lot of data analysed to make sense of the microbes!

      Hope that helps,