The very best thing is being able to spend your time investigating what the world is made of! Although we see the world all around us with our eyes, there’s only so much that you can investigate visually.
The techniques that I use allow us to see things that are physically impossible to see with the naked eye – or even with the very best microscopes. That’s because we study protein molecules that are even smaller that the ‘size’ of light (i.e. the wavelength). We use X-rays – a type of light with an extremely short wavelength – to reveal the structures of protein molecules in 3D.
Every time we solve a new structure, it gives us a joyous moment of discovery because, for the first time in human history, we can see something, a part of nature, that no-one has ever seen before. That’s a *good* feeling!
Wow what a question! For me it the chance to get paid for doing something I love. The travel is a really good perk too. I did experiments in Vancouver, Canada, went to conferences in Japan and Switzerland, summer school in Germany…loads of really good opportunities.
I love the variation as well. Some days I can be in the lab, some days in the office emailing or reading papers, some days i’m out buying supplies for an experiment, some days i’m at a conference. I love the variation in the job so you don’t get bored. I always work on lots of projects at the same time too so I’m always busy.
The best thing about being a PhD student is that no-one else is doing what you are doing! This can be a pain too if you get stuck but on the whole it feels good to be doing something really at the frontier of science! That makes it sound really exciting and it isn’t always!! i’ve had days where I’ve just been measuring the mass of plastic samples and it was so dull!
This is like the question I answered on my profile – the answer’s the same, so I hope you don’t mind if I copy and paste it (I thought about it pretty carefully when I wrote the profile):
“Doing things no-one has done before whether it is devising new experiments or spotting patterns no-one has noticed. Best of all is coming up with new ideas that predict what will happen in future experiments and help to explain how the brain works. If the predictions turn out to be true, it’s incredibly satisfying!”
If you want to know more I’d be happy to tell you – write a comment below…
I like being able to answer questions. That can take many forms – it could be ones like this – it could be ones my friends ask me – it could be big questions about my science, or even questions about things I know nothing about, but can use my science to think my way through. Questions, thats the best bit