Hi Selina. I think I’m quite good at science – the people who I know who are VERY good seem to be a bit more focussed on things than me. Being good at something is a bit of an odd mixture – you need to put in the hours – and many scientists I know put in really loooong hours (not for me usually) and you need to want to get better (which i think you do by practice like most things). The trouble is, its always a bit difficult to judge how ‘good’ you are because our field can be quite small. I love a quote by Steve Jones who is a famous biologist. “I am one of the top four experts in the world on a small snail, and I’m sure the other three people who are interested in it would agree…”
One of the strange things I found about being a scientist is that the more I know, the more I realize that I don’t understand. The better I get, the more I realize that other people are far better than I’ll ever be. So while I must be reasonably good to have a PhD and a job in one of the country’s top research universities, I am keenly aware of my own limitations. When I teach students, I always try to remember that the people I am talking to may turn out to be far cleverer and better at science than I am – but I wish I wasn’t right about this quite so often!
I guess I was pretty good at it at school and at Uni, where I studied physics. But I often think that I was more of a swotter than a true ‘natural’. Even at the end of my degree I wasn’t sure that I was the sort of person that could do a PhD but I gave it a go and, whaddya know, turns out I enjoyed it and was able to get at least some of my experiments to work!
I always really enjoyed lab-work and still do, though I have fewer opportunities to work in the lab these days. Mostly I am supervising the members of my group (who by the way are taking a keen interest in my participation in this event!)
I’m not bad! i loved science at school and did well in my exams. I loved science so much that I studied physics at university which was great fun. You basically find out that everything you learn at school isn’t quite right and this is how it’s really like!