Micro Life Zone
Asked by bronto to Darren, Krystal, Lee, Tara, Upulie on 14 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by if1963, kdogs4, bobbey, nathan5, bobbey, bluepowerranger, bre0007.
Keywords: best, highlight, scientist
One of my favourite moments was during my Honours project when I was working in a lab that studied the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus which causes AIDS.
Because we were working with live virus, we had to wear extreme protective clothing to prevent ourselves from accidentally getting infected.
The best part of my project was creating a video of a virus infecting a living cell and watching the process under a high-powered microscope! 😀
This year I organised the Melbourne “Rally for Research” – a protest to protect funding for medical research in Australia. Scientists had heard that that there might be cuts to science research funding in the budget, which would mean less research into important diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease in Australia.
My friends and I wanted to do something, to show that people care about medical research and that it is important for everyone, and one of my mates said “What about a rally?”. To get people involved, we set up a facebook page, and advertised on twitter and on our webpage, and suddenly, our idea had turned into a HUGE protest! People from all over Australia wanted to join in, and suddenly there was a “Rally for Research” being organised in every capital city in the country!
It was amazing! So many people came to the rally, scientists, patients, doctors, and people who wanted to show their support for all the valuable research scientists do. I was the MC, and I was up in front of a crowd of over 4,000 people, leading them in chants and getting them to wave banners. I did lots of interviews for TV, radio and newspapers, and even got my own bloopers reel on the 7pm Project.
Pictures from the Melbourne Rally for Research here: http://bit.ly/mEG0ie
7pm project clip: http://bit.ly/ev3OdZ Medical Research story starts 2:53 and the bloopers outake is at 6:35 (Yes, that’s me doing the shouting with the microphone)
Radio interview here: http://bit.ly/mH6zF0
And we won! Medical research funding was saved and now scientists all over Australia were able to go ahead with their research. I was so proud of our effort, and that so many scientists had taken to the streets to protest. And I’ve learnt so much, that together people do have the power to change the world and that it is important to speak up for the things that matter to you!
My favourite moment was while I was working on my current project on breast cancer.I was testing a drug and I was amazed to see the effect it had on cancer cells.We did some work to verify what we’d seen,and it was really exciting to see that the preliminary results were real! So it looks like this might be a useful drug that could be used to treat breast cancer.We have to keep investigating it, and maybe some day we can take it to clinical trials. It made every late day I’ve spent in the lab worthwhile,and I hope that we really can get a treatment out of this!
The other exciting thing I’ve done as a scientist was to participate in the Discoveries need Dollars Campaign that Krystal was a part of. We wanted to protect funding for research into diseases like cancer,diabetes,stroke and others. So I did what I could to get the word out on Facebook and Twitter,and I also wrote an article for New Matilda, online news magazine to raise awareness about medical researc.In participating in this campaign,in an indirect way,I was really amazed to see how much people cared about medical research.It also reminded me that in the end,we’re doing this so patients can get better and get on with their lives,instead of being sick.
I’ve made quite a few important discoveries now, and some of these have been very important in my field of research, but the what I consider to be the “best” thing I have done as a scientist is teaching.
It’s a bit strange to be a research scientist in that only other scientists really understand what you do and only other scientists in your field understand what your discoveries mean. So for me one of the best things I do is teaching people about science so that there can be new scientists and so that non-scientists can understand what scientists do and why.
This takes a few forms. I teach uni students how to be scientists. I teach school teachers about science so they can teach kids and I also teach kids directly. Only a few of these people might end up being scientists, but all of them have a better understanding of what scientists do and why they are important.
Hmm, good question…
One of the coolest things I have done as a scientist wasn’t really science. I have been really lucky to meet a number of Nobel prize winners, which was either really inspiring, or in one case really disappointing. It is always intimidating though…
Another cool part of science is that you get to travel to some pretty interesting places. I love being able to talk to non-scientists about what I do and help them to understand how research is done and why it is so important.
Probably the most interesting experiment I’ve done was to change skin cells into stem cells. A Japanese scientist discovered a few years ago that you could “reprogram” adult cells into stem cells just by giving them extra copies of four genes. Sounds too simple (and it almost is), but it works. It is quite amazing to watch down a microscope and see skin cells turn into stem cells over a few days.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2020