• Question: Why have you decided to the project that your doing?, what difference did it make to your life that you think it'll make to ours??

    Asked by harrietellisdon to Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 26 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi harrietellisdon,
      Once day I was in the library and I song came into my head…..I could hear every single part of the music, the voice, the lyrics…but I hadn’t heard these song for ages. How did my brain start making this song?? and how was I hearing it, I wasn’t listening to anything.

      This got me more interested into hearing and the brain. I started to looking into ringing in the ears…which is an auditory illness called tinnitus which can causes people to be really upset.

      I studies brains all my life (well only at uni :P) and I love how it can heal itself, how it is communicates only using electricity, how we only use 40% of it. By become interested and curious about something so small, like why a song pops into our head…This has allowed me to know research a illness that affects a lot of people in the world.

      So what difference has it made to my life?
      I get to find a cure for it….and this is the greatest thing I can do 😀
      I also get to travel the world, because this cure will help everyone around the world.

      How it will have a difference on your life?
      Well this auditory illness..tinnitus is caused by hearing damage. We now listen to ipods which cause damage to our ears every time we listen to it. So more and more people will get tinnitus in years to come. If i can find a cure now, I will be able to treat people who are young now, when they are old and have hearing problems later in life.

      So I am a brain scientist….just from thinking why does a song pop into our heads 😛

    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi harrietellisdon,

      This is a good question, and one that I get asked a lot by people! I chose my project because it uses 2 different types of Biology that I’m really interested in – Microbiology and Genetics.

      I did my university degree in Microbiology and absolutely loved it! The different ways that microbes have learned to survive makes it so interesting, especially when you look at parasites like I am. Parasites have to be able to survive the immune system of the animal they’re attacking. So they make invisibility cloaks; they fire off decoys so the immune system goes after harmless proteins instead of the bacteria; and they can make the immune system attack its own host for them! Horrible but totally brilliant!

      And then there was the Genetics side of things. I’d never really done any Genetics before and I love a challenge of learning something new! It’s so exciting to be using all of the ultra-modern technologies that read DNA. I knew that I’d be working in one of the most popular areas of Biology if I took this project and I really wanted to get involved with it.

      So, the mix of a topic I love with one I was really keen to learn meant I just had to take the project!

      As for the difference I think it’ll make to people’s lives… Well the parasite that I’m working on kills up to 100,000 people every year in the world and I’m hoping to help work out how to stop it. That’s pretty exciting, I think! My work will hopefully find out which genes the parasite has that let it cause disease in humans. Other scientists will then be able to try to make medicines to stop the genes working. If we stop the genes working then we stop the parasite and stop people dying. So, any benefits of my work won’t be seen for many years but they could be huge and it could save lives!

      Hope that answers your question,


    • Photo: Jono Bone

      Jono Bone answered on 27 Jun 2013:

      Hey Harriet,

      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.

      I try to understand why and how humans cooperate with each other in situations where they could do better by cheating.These situations are known as social dilemmas. Climate change is one of the biggest environmental issues and is a social dilemma. For example, if every country in the world cooperated by stopping burning fossil fuels and planting more trees then we could probably stop climate change and everyone would benefit. But, every country on their own would benefit from cheating by burning fossil fuels and not spending money planting trees if the rest of the country were cooperating. This would result in lots of countries cheating and climate change continuing.

      If we can understand how best to get people or countries to cooperate then we could use policies to create these conditions , this could be used to tackle environmental issues like climate change.