The PhD officially starts! 

We had our proposals approved and started in our labs. Writing the proposal was a good practice in putting together my research and thinking through project ideas, though I’ve been warned it will likely change as time goes on… I’m now a neuroscientist! (Exciting). My project will investigate how endothelial cells in the brain can influence white matter pathology and oligodendrocyte biology in cerebral small vessel disease. This disease is the leading cause of vascular dementia so has huge implications, and is something I’m really excited to be researching. In another post perhaps I’ll talk more about why and what questions I’ll be answering.

I have returned to the labs I did my first rotation in, so it’s a familiar environment but I have forgotten where they keep certain things… the staples, the flasks… I’m also working on a different project so it’s really useful to already know everyone in the lab as I’m much less shy about asking them for help than I was when I started my first rotation. I’ve also had six months of independent work and it’s sort of just dawned on me how much more confident  in my abilities I feel now than when I was starting in this lab last time.

The rotations can be about learning techniques or about trying out a new theme of research, for me it was also about finding an environment that suited my working style and that I felt would motivate me to become a better scientist. They were an important part of why I picked the Tissue Repair PhD programme and they enabled me to make an informed choice for my final project. I’m ready to get going! 


Edinburgh International Science Festival 

During our three week break between finishing the second rotation and starting the full PhD project I decided to work the Edinburgh International Science Festival. The idea was to improve my science communication, meet some new people and make a bit of extra money. I definitely did all of those things but had no idea just how tired i would be at the end!

Our group led small-group workshops for kids about ER, pretending we had a patient to do surgeries on. The kids ALWAYS wanted to call  him Bob… do they all hate Bobs and wish them awful accidents? Or want to save all Bobs and only Bobs?

We were teaching them all about the human body, about preventing infections and had fun handling some real medical equipment. It was maybe a bit too real for lots of them as we had a fair amount of people feeling faint… clearly my theatrics were effective.

I learnt lots about keeping an audience engaged and being able to handle different types of groups. Some of the initially more challenging kids ended up being my most rewarding after I got them into the whole drama of the story and asked them questions to get them involved. 

The other members of Team ER kept me sane and motivated through the hectic festival so thanks to these girls!