Tagged: Bristol

The Great Balancing Act

Hey all,

I haven’t blogged for quite a while and simply it’s because I have so many other commitments at the moment, which have been very fun but equally as tiring.

Over the summer period, I have been doing many outreach events in and around Bristol such as Pint of Science, @Bristol events and aiding my supervisor in her radio interviews. I really enjoy the engagement, as you have probably gathered, with many individuals which can be both challenging and keeps you think on your feet.

Another commitment I have taken up is the management of an SLA (sterolithography) 3D printer, Formlabs Form 2 printer. The 3D printer is fantastic for microfluidic but owning a 3D printer means accepting odd and interesting 3D printing jobs, many jobs aimed at props for outreach. However, having a printer that can print all sorts of things doesn’t necessarily mean it should due to the costs involved using resins where the cheaper FDM (Fused deposition modeling) would be more appropriate. Additionally the failed prints can eat up a lot of time which could be better spent on research. Please check my twitter for some of the 3D prints I have done!

Also, we had a big lab move from Engineering and Physics labs to the new Synbio lab, Biocompute Lab in the Life Science Building. This is currently in progress but hopefully will be ready by the beginning of October which I am very excited about! Also, the 3D printer is already located in the lab so it’ll be fantastic to have everything under one roof which saves me from running around between all the departments I work in.

Finally, I have my research still ongoing (last but not least!). Unfortunately it is not progressing as fast as I would like and sometimes feels over-shadowed by all the other commitments lately. However, I have the methodology in place and a systematic plan of different reagents to attempt which is now a tick-box list until I have the desired test environment in my diffusive microfluidic device.

As always, thanks for reading!

PhD Update – 23 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.


Michael Levitt – Nobel Prize Laureate lecture

On Wednesday 6th of April, the University of Bristol was fortunate enough to host a presentation by Michael Levitt, a 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry.

If you are unaware of Professors Levitt’s work, it is in the fields of biochemistry, physical chemistry, and theoretical chemistry looking into the computation modelling of proteins where his work was awarded 1/3 of the Nobel prize. The presentation was broken down into two parts, his work towards the Nobel prize as well as the state of scientific community towards funding and enhancing research towards new frontiers.

Professor Levitt talked about being inspired by Scientific America magazines from an early age and taking a particular interest in the structure of proteins. He followed his passion towards modelling interactions of proteins to understand the structure and function. As well as the work, he stressed the importance of independent work and the persistence he showed to follow his passion entering the scientific community.

This lead the talk towards early career scientists. In recent decades a shift towards funding established researchers has overtaken funding for early career researchers which raises concerns for early career and future scientists entering the community. Professor Levitt offered some suggestions towards funding but without a change in funding bodies, there appears to be a decrease in early career scientists entering the field which could result in a future bottle-neck within the field of science.

The take home message of the event were these four points:

  • Be nice and kind
  • Persistent
  • Independent
  • Original

Very simple and important points but equally easy to forget and overlook from day to day. Especially in research where scientists are faced with failure quite often and it can be difficult to be nice and kind, as well as persistent.

As always, thanks for reading!

PhD Update – 18 Months

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.

Getting to know the ropes

Last month has been very busy, after initially start with introductions and settling into doing a PhD, now comes the planning phase. The planning phase involves the student to really understand the project and to start taking ownership which sounds a little odd but really it is planning the initial experiments, working out the stages and how to reach the goal of your research. I already know that many of these plans may not happen as research never goes to plan, if it did then it wouldn’t be research!

Personally I take inspiration from Albert Einstein “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler” which is a great way to think about planning experiments. As the more complicated an experiment is, the more factors need to be considered and if something does go wrong, which it is bound to, it’s very difficult to pinpoint the problem and it may be a contribution of several factors. Also, rather than taking something complicated and making it simpler, it’s far better to use a very simple idea and adapt that. It’s very easy to see the whole project and all the different problems to solve and design something very complicated, I feel it is difficult to break down the experiments into bite size chunks where useful data can be obtained and understood.

As for myself, I’ve planned a few initial stages for my project and I am learning a little bit of programming and computer aided design (CAD) for different parts of my project. My skills before my PhD were only from the biomedical arena and although I could outsource a lot of these challenges to other colleagues, I want to have the essentials skills so I can do the basics as well as understanding the limitations of the different applications. Furthermore, the reason why I wanted to do a PhD was to pick up new skills and continue research into nanomedicine. I feel a job as a researcher is to never stop learning as medicine and technology is always evolving and it’s valuable to pick up any and all skills as they may be useful in the future or at the very least to gain experience.

PhD Update – 2 months.

Funded by EPSRC at the University of Bristol; Associated with Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England.