It’s just fantastic to be able to spend your life thinking about how the world works and coming up with experiments to try to explore it in new ways. One of main activities is solving the structures of complicated protein molecules that are constructed of thousands of atoms. It’s a very fiddly business involving biology, chemistry, physics and maths and can be very frustrating. But when you get to the end and finally see your structure for the first time, it gives you a fantastic feeling of excitement and satifaction. (I wrote about it here: http://whyscience.co.uk/contributors/stephen-curry/stephen-curry-because-its-got-the-x-factor.html)
However, it is a very busy job and one of the most difficult aspects is that it is so open-ended. You never really feel that you are finished. There is always the sense that there is more work to be done. Plus, science is a competitive business. If someone else does the same experiments as us and publishes them first, that can be a real bummer. So I do work quite long hours. Although this is mainly ‘voluntary’ I always have the sense that our competitors are breathing down our necks!
Yes. I enjoy doing science and finding out how things work. I also enjoy learning about what other people are finding out, which is a big part of being a scientist (especially at University). I enjoy teaching and helping students learn and understand new things – it’s especially enjoyable to help them run their first big experiments. Those are the things that I really like about my job. I have to do some other things, which aren’t so much fun, and with all the different things I do, I find it pretty hard to keep my concentration and do each thing well (men are supposed to be bad at multitasking, aren’t they?). But overall I am very lucky to have such an interesting and fulfilling job. Participating in I’m A Scientist has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done, BTW – I suppose a part of me must have thought that nobody outside science would be interested, but from the questions on this site and in the live chats we do, I can tell that a lot of people are, and it’s great to know that those young people are out there and going to be out there in the years to come. Sorry if the last bit seems a bit cheesy.
Hey MrSheep, I love love LOVE it! I feel really lucky that I get to do something that I love and that is so varied and challenging. I would hate to have a job that is the same everyday and that didn’t stretch me…plus you get the chance to travel as an added bonus!