Question: do you work in a team or individually?
Stephen Curry answered on 13 Jun 2010:
I guess I work in several teams. I am the leader – or ‘principal investigator’ – of a team of researchers made up of PhD students and ‘postdocs’. PhD students already have a science degree and are now doing a 3-4 year project to get a second degree – their doctorate. Postdocs are junior scientists who already have a PhD (and are called Dr so-and-so).
But our group also teams up with other groups in the UK and around the world to work on problems that we are all interested in. For example, we have worked with scientists in the US, Japan and Germany on different projects. It is great to be part of such an international effort (and can be a good excuse for travel to distant places).
Tom Hartley answered on 13 Jun 2010:
Sometimes I work on my own, but most of my research is done as part of a team. Brain imaging experiments are particularly labour intensive and take ages to prepare, and afterwards analyze. This work is usually divided amongst a number of people, one might think up the experiment and write it up afterwards, another might help design the task and stimuli. One might train the participants, another performs safety checks and starts the experiment running. Another person might help analyze the data afterwards, perhaps developing a new way to look at the results. We are also helped by a big team at the neuroimaging centre who insure that the scanners and computers we need work properly, and give advice on technical issues, safety and physics.
It’s much more fun to work in a team and I’ve been lucky to work with some really good friends and colleagues.Two (or more) brains are often better than one.
Do you work on your own or as a team in your science lessons? We used to sometimes work in small groups, and I always enjoyed it.
Steve Roser answered on 14 Jun 2010:
I work in all sorts of different sized groups….I spend quite a lot of time thinking on my own ( all scientists do if they have the chance) I work with my research students helping them with their experiments. I work with other academics on complicated questions that need special skills (I might be good at measuring something, a friend might be good at making the samples, and another at computing the results) and I work with big teams to look at big problems. I’m part of a team with about 20 other boffins looking at new ways of getting pharmaceuticals targetted at the specific bits of the body, for example. Its also nice to feel part of a big team with all the other scientists working in your field, although sometime that can seem more like a fight!
Marieke Navin answered on 14 Jun 2010:
That is a really good question.
As a particle physicist you are always part of a big team (depending on how big your experiment is). Because the experiments are so big and so expensive, people from lots of different universities from all over the world are involved in large collaborations.
However, day to day you are generally on your own. One of the main criteria for a PhD is that it is your own individual work…so you really are on your own there. There’s no lab partner or buddy to help you with your work. For that reason it can be quite lonely sometimes. Luckily there are always other people you can ask for advice and help. You have a supervisor as well who is responsible for you and should help you if you need it (if you can find him and he’s not off on the other side of the world AGAIN!)