• Question: What's it like being a scientist?

    Asked by embolina to Alex, Amy, Andy, Georgia, Ollie on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy Reeve

      Amy Reeve answered on 15 Jun 2011:


      It’s good! 🙂 We get to do really interesting experiments, we get to travel all over the world for conferences and we get to talk to people like you about our work! Science is a pretty flexible career as well so your days are never the same 🙂

    • Photo: Alex Munro

      Alex Munro answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Its brilliant; you’re learning new things all the time and you get to hang out in a really stimulating environment with other scientists who are also enthusiastic about science…

      It’s quite a demanding environment too; but that’s not a bad thing. You have to work hard, but you get a great buzz when you’ve done good work.

      Also, it’s a very questioning place – in your work, you have to be prepared to defend your conclusions; in presentations etc, you have to expect questions… But this is also not a bad thing; sometimes a question will make you think of something you hadn’t thought of! And it’s also okay to say that you don’t know!

    • Photo: Ollie Russell

      Ollie Russell answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      Hi! I think its really good. We get to do cool things like make DNA and grow cells. Its a really fun thin place to work as well because most of the people here are the same age. I think the worse thing is having to sit and analyse data, I cant imagine how bad it must be if you didnt do any experiments… thats the fun part for me! 🙂

    • Photo: Georgia Campbell

      Georgia Campbell answered on 17 Jun 2011:

      It’s great! I get to find out new things every day, and there are always new experiments to try, so it never gets boring 🙂

      Sometimes we get to go to conferences abroad too, to talk to other people about our work, and that’s pretty great – I’m going to Italy in September, and work is paying for it!

      It’salso good that science is so flexible – even when you have a lot of work to do, you can choose when you want to do it, and organise your experiments around other things that you want to do outside of work 🙂

    • Photo: Andy MacLeod

      Andy MacLeod answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      I enjoy it – most of the time.

      Hello again embolina. Like any job, it has its ups and downs, some days are better than others. But the ups tend to outnumber the downs. I enjoy learning new things, finding stuff out. I don’t think there’s any other job where I could do that to such an extent.

      Having said that, I do think “being a scientist” is more than just a job. For me anyway, it’s more of a mindset, a way of looking at the world. Science isn’t just a series of facts to learn, but a way of finding stuff out. I’d probably still think of myself as a scientist, even if it wasn’t my job.

      The word “scientist” is a fairly recent invention. I heard in a talk once that it was given it’s current meaning in the mid-1800s, at an early meeting of what is now the British Science Association. They needed something to call themselves. From the late 1600s onwards, people who we would now term “scientists”, called themselves “natural philosophers” – and I guess thinking about nature describes what we do rather well. But after rejecting that, and several other possibilities, they settled on “scientist”.

      One of the other terms they rejected was “nature-poker”. I think that would have been fun.

      “I’m a nature-poker, get me out of here!” 😀