For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a scientist. Even before I really even knew what a scientist was, I’d envision myself in a white lab coat pouring colourful liquids from one test tube into another, creating a new colour that would certainly be the cure for something. Nowadays, I realise that the reality of science is carefully pipetting (with all the necessary safety precautions) mostly colourless fluids into various dishes and plastic test tubes using different concentrations, and observing the effects under the microscope. And although this may sound less glamorous, the magic of science has never escaped me. It’s still fun and exciting.
I’m in my second year of the (now-discontinued) general science course. The reason I chose to study science at Trinity was because of my obsession with immunology, which started when I learned about some of the marvels of the immune system when I was about 16. Trinity is a world leader in this field, so it only made sense for me to apply to study science here.
Although I still have a long way to go before I finish my degree, I am already well aware of the struggles that many face when finishing their undergraduate science degree: having to choose between doing a PhD to pursue research, a masters to become more specialised before choosing research or industry, or going straight into industry. These are of course by no means the only options available to science graduates, although I believe that for those interested in staying in science, these are the most popular options.
What struck me about everyone I had met was that they never seemed to have lost their passion, despite how experienced they were in the tough world of academia
I am yet to make this decision myself of course, but have always wanted to pursue a PhD and further research. Unfortunately, the negative aspects about academic life are the things you hear the most about. Long hours, little pay, pressure from funding bodies and many more issues are enough to make anyone stop and think about this choice, and I sometimes I fear that I might lose my childlike passion for scientific research.
However, over the summer, I applied to be a student rapporteur for Dr Lydia Lynch at the Schrodinger conference on the future of biology. I was extremely lucky to have my application accepted, and am delighted to say that my passion for an academic career has been further solidified by this conference. If anyone interested in biology looks at the lineup of speakers, they will understand why I was so excited. The conference not only allowed me to hear some of the world’s greatest biologists talk passionately about their research, but allowed me to rub shoulders with some very interesting people. From PhD students to fellow undergrads, to science communicators and even some of the speakers themselves, I did a lot of talking.
I am already well aware of the struggles that many face when finishing their undergraduate science degree
What struck me about everyone I had met was that they never seemed to have lost their passion, despite how experienced they were in the tough world of academia. Some told me of good internship programmes, others told me about their own paths to academia and everyone was willing to offer some advice, which is why I would advise anyone interested in anything to talk to people in that area. In particular, it was an honour to spend time with Trinity’s own Dr Lydia Lynch, who heads a lab not only in Trinity but also Harvard, and whose great dedication and passion for immunology was matched by her kindness and encouragement. Dr Lynch’s talk was a great reminder of why I had been so attracted to science, and particularly immunology, in the first place.
The future of biology is as exciting as it’s past, even if all it doesn’t always have pretty colours involved.