11 January 2014

How to be a scientist

Everything you need to know about becoming a scientist

How to be a scientist

Love chemistry? Biology? Physics? Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be a living, breathing scientist? We spoke to Hollie about her sciencey job and found out it’s not all rocket science being a scientist…

Hello Hollie! What’s your job?

I'm a Research Assistant for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which means I carry out research on sciencey stuff. I’m studying for a PhD.

A PhD, that’s impressive! What sciencey stuff do you specialise in?

I’m studying a disease called African Sleeping Sickness. My job is to find out how it affects the human brain and find new ways to prevent it from infecting people.

What's a typical day at work?

There’s a lot of laboratory experiments in my job, so I could be looking down a microscope counting parasites. There’s also data analysis (number-crunching), or writing up experiments and reports just like you would after any science experiment at school.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It’s challenging! I’m working with living things (the parasites are alive…) and anything live can be unpredictable. I’m constantly amazed by how something so tiny under my microscope can cause such devastation in the human body. It’s a massive puzzle and I have to sort it out!

What’s the worst thing about your job?

It can be frustrating sometimes when science experiments go wrong and you don’t know why.

What do you do at school/ university?

Human Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Then I went to the University of Brighton and did a BSc in Biomedical Science.

What advice would you give to anyone who was interested in doing what you do?

If you think science is for you but aren’t sure don’t specialise too soon choose something broad, like biology, and then you can decide later. Ask if you can help out in your lab at school during free periods or to set up experiments before school starts to see what it’s like.

Don’t worry too much about exams – there are ways into science if you don’t get the grades you wanted.

The biggest misconception about your job is….

People think scientists are all uncool nerds. Scientists aren’t boring!

If you weren’t a science genius, you’d love to be a...

Professional roller derby player. I don’t even think this exists as a job… but if it did I’d be there…

And with that she roller derbyed her way out the room.

Thank you Hollie!

If you’re interested in doing a job like Hollie’s she recommends science buddies

At Whatever after we recommend having a look at The Natural History museum and Focus Magazine for science and technology.


Hollie was interview by Isla Gray

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