I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here!

Lancaster University’s very own Craig O’Hare recently took part and won Organs Zone’s ‘I’m a Scientist, Get me out here’ competition! *Woo hoo*

The competition aims to bridge the gap between students and real scientists, give young people a voice and teaches them about science and scientists in a fun, engaging and memorable way. Over a two week period, students have the opportunity to submit questions and take part in live MSN-style chats before voting for their scientist of choice to win £500 to spend on science communication.

Craig is a PhD student currently trying to get to grips with how our skin can tell if it’s been infected with viruses (like when we have chickenpox or cold sores), and how it fights back with the help of our immune system.

When asked what a typical day involves Craig responded:

‘Often when I come into the lab the first thing I need to do is feed my cells.

In some ways my cells feel like a pet as they need a lot of attention and care to keep them alive. If the cells look like they’re growing OK, I’ll take some out of their flasks and set up an infection with cold sore virus. This means most of the other days of my week will then be spent looking at how the infected cells deal with the virus. Sometimes I’ll watch how they change under the microscope, or I’ll measure different kinds of help me signals that are produced to tell the immune system that there is an infection. I can even do experiments to measure how well the virus grows in the cells.

There is often some waiting around while my experiments are running. I use this time to read research papers about new techniques or new discoveries. I also go to seminars to hear other scientists from different universities talk about their work. Once a month I to present my results to other members of my research group. This is actually really helpful as we brainstorm to help each other out if we’re stuck with any research problems and it’s great for coming up with new ideas.’

Craig plans to set up a photoproject to showcase the diversity and variety of role models among scientists with his winnings.

Good luck with that Craig!


To read the rest of Craig’s interview click here.