A Day in the Life

Heart skips a beat ...

"Damn I’m late, thank you immaculately timed traffic!", I mutter under my breath, as I rush into the hospital building and semi-dive into the elevator. I'm about to meet one of my medical idols - Dr Ganesh Kumar - an interventional cardiologist and the current Head of Interventional Cardiology at Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, India. As I get off the elevator, a nurse redirects me to the so-called catheterization laboratory, where Dr Kumar performs his surgeries. He greets me and to my absolute delight he invites me to join him for the day. Read more »

Exploring the Musical Brain

Dr Katie Overy, of the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music, has spent her career working in the fields of music, psychology, and neuroscience. This has brought her into contact with people approaching the same questions from different viewpoints: practitioners (e.g. teachers, parents, music therapists) and researchers, musicians, and scientists.

Throughout it all, Dr Overy's aim has been to understand the nature of musical experience through these differing perspectives, and to investigate the basis for claims that music can be beneficial to learning, and to facilitate links between the approaches.. The relationship between art and science, and other ‘opposing’ disciplines, is one that she understands well. I got the chance to chat with her about her career and some of her perceptions. Read more »

Up the Creek.... with Dr Guy Harvey

…zzzzzIIINNNGGG!!....“RIGHT RIGGER! RIGHT RIGGER!! QUICK, PULL IN THE LINES!!!...Let him have it ALEX! Come on FAST JESS!!” The boat is all of a sudden filled with excitement. The line is running off the reel fast and my brother’s eyes are wide with anticipation while Dad’s have narrowed beneath his sunglasses. “PUT IT ON STRIKE ALEX!!!” Alex immediately puts heat on the line and it feels hooked. Dad is focused, backing down the boat in the direction of the fish, knowing all too well that it’s not over until the fat lady sings. From the sound of that reel, we all know it’s going to be a big one and those boring four hours patrolling back and forth off the bank north of Grand Cayman were all going to be worth it. Read more »

A Day in the Life of Professor Sue Black

Most of us hate being woken up by a phone call in the middle of the night, and even more so if it has to do with work, but for Professor Sue Black this is a regular occurrence. Requests for her to identify human remains, or sometimes those resembling a human, can come at any time and from anywhere in the world, from Falkirk to Fiji. Professor Black recently gave a well-attended talk entitled ‘Forensic anthropology and the issue of identity’ at the new Roslin Institute Building. She heads the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, while also serving as a forensic anthropologist in the UK and many other parts of the world. Before her talk, I was able to ask her a few questions. Read more »

A Summer of Science

Summer internships in a laboratory are very important to undergraduate science students as they provide practical experience that is highly sought after by employers. They are also a great way to spend eight to ten weeks of your holidays. In the summer of 2010, I was fortunate to attend a two-month work placement at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in East Anglia, alongside other undergraduates from the UK and abroad.

The JIC was established in 1910 in London as a fruit breeding research station. Now it is located in Norwich, where it forms a large complex of labs and greenhouses. The JIC hosts many experts in the areas of plant genetics, microbiology and biochemistry and carries out high-quality research. Read more »

Bridging Disciplines

Reality show meets scientists

This past spring, five researchers from the University of Edinburgh battled it out against scientists from across the UK in the inaugural round of “I’m a Scientist, Get Me out of Here!” With 25 scientists and around 2,000 high school students participating in its first round, this Wellcome Trust-funded event aims to make science and scientists more accessible to teenagers, and hopefully show that scientists are normal people, too!

The event lasts two weeks and takes place entirely through the “I’m a Scientist” website. The website is divided into ‘zones’, with five scientists each. Some of these are themed zones (focusing on topics such as the brain or evolution), and some are general science. Students post questions on the site to be answered either by a specific scientist or by all five scientists in a zone. Teachers can also book live slots in which students and scientists chat in real time via a chat room. Read more »

Dr Victoria Martin

Dr. Victoria Martin completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh. After a postdoctoral position at Northwest University in the US she returned to Edinburgh as a researcher and lecturer in Particle Physics at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics. Most recently she has, along with a team of other scientists and students from Edinburgh, become involved in the ATLAS experiment at the LHC, searching for the elusive Higgs boson. Read more »

The 2009 British Science Festival: a PhD student’s Perspective

It’s Thursday night in a student bar in Guildford and I have just witnessed a man on stage have his chest and nose hair pulled out with tweezers. Allegedly this was to illustrate a point about pain receptors. Next, author Bill Bryson takes the stage to discuss his popular science book A Short History of Nearly Everything. Enjoying a drink at the table next to me is moustachioed scientist and acclaimed science broadcaster Professor Robert Winston, who intercepts the roving microphone to ask Bill for his opinion on school science lessons. Not your average Thursday night, you might say. Unless, of course, you are at the British Science Festival, an annual gathering where over 350 of the UK’s top scientists and speakers meet to discuss the latest scientific developments with more than 50,000 members of the public. Read more »

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