• Question: how hard is it to change people's lives whilst doing science

    Asked by selinamackemsley to Michael, Jennifer, Jonathan, Katie, Ollie, Omar, Rebecca, Rebecca, Sarah, Tim.M on 5 Feb 2018.
    • Photo: Rebecca Dewey

      Rebecca Dewey answered on 5 Feb 2018:

      I always like to say that science isn’t about being “difficult”, it’s about being motivated to persevere. In terms of changing people’s lives, there’s also a large element of luck to it. If you’re in the right team, with the right study, at the right time, and you are also motivated and you persevere, you’ll do some great science!

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 6 Feb 2018:

      It can be really hard and some of us never will. But it can take just a moment of inspiration even some times by accident to have an idea and prove something that will change peoples lives for the better. During my PhD, I was researching how human and cows milk helped babies stay free of bugs that cause diarrhoea. We came up with a method that keeps one of the proteins we found in milk active even when we dried it. That idea and how it worked in milk to kill bugs was published in the Lancet, a very big magazine for doctors all over the world. We were one of the news items on TV and it has the potential to help stop babies from dying in parts of the world where sickness and diarrhoea are very common.

      We were lucky, and you hear a lot about being in the right place at the right time. Some of my research though may not have any impact on people for many years . It might just be a small part of a jigsaw that someone else comes along later and finishes off. I like to think that I have had a small part in changing someones life either through their health or the teaching of tomorrows doctors. I can be hard and frustratiing, take time and not always work out as you might think. But thats paret of the adventure and appeal. You might just be the one!

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 6 Feb 2018:

      The good thing about being a scientist is that there are lots of different ways that you can change people’s lives! You might be working on a project that has direct translation application, like a medicine or treatment. You might be teaching students and helping them with their exams. Or you might hold events for the general public to share your research. In that way I think you can also change lives because you are helping to shape peoples understanding of the world and in some cases, their life choices.