I do research in a university looking at what will happen to fungi (mushrooms) in future climates
PhD student in Environmental Microbiology
Favourite thing to do in my job: I love being outside working in the forest that I use for my research. It's also great when you've been working on an experiment for a long time and it finally works!
I work in a high-tech forest where we add extra greenhouse gas into the air, I look at the mushrooms and other fungi to see whether they like the extra greenhouse gas or not!
I work in a high-tech forest which pumps out extra carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the air. This means that the air in the forest is similar to the air in 50 years time! I see what effects the different air has on the fungi, and what this could mean for how forests grow in the future.
Fungi are a group of organisms which are a very important part of the food chain in forests and lots of other ecosystems around the world. Although you might not know it, fungi are around you all the time, you’ve probably even got some in your fridge (a packet of mushrooms, or a loaf of yeasty bread).
My Typical Day
I have 3 kinds of typical day depending on whether I'm working in the forest, in the laboratory or at my desk.
If I’m working in the forest, I get up pretty early and drive over to the forest with any other researchers who are working that day so that we can arrive at about 8am. We also load up the car with any equipment we need in the field. Once I arrive, I put on my safety equipment like sturdy boots and a hard hat, and head out into the forest. In the forest I take samples such as soil and leaves to take back to the laboratory. I also look around the forest to see if I can see any fungi growing, and I record where I found them. We usually stop working at about 4pm and then drive back to the university so that the samples can be stored properly (most of my samples go into a freezer at -80°C)
If I’m working in the laboratory I am based on campus at university, so I can just walk to work. I usually have a sit down with a cup of coffee and plan all my experiments and timings before I go into the laboratory. This helps me get more done and also makes sure that I don’t make as many mistakes! There are lots of different things I could be doing in the laboratory such as getting DNA out of the fungi from the samples I have taken on site, or growing fungi on agar (jelly) petri dishes. In the laboratory you have to be really clean and careful to make sure that you don’t spread any micro-organisms outside of the laboratory, but also so you can make sure that your samples stay nice and clean.
The final kind of working day I can have is where I am just sat at my desk! I share an office with lots of other PhD researchers, but I have my own computer and desk (where I can keep my coffee and chocolate!). When I’m working at my desk I might be planning experiments, reading scientific papers written by other researchers, or analyzing data from my experiments.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, curious, determined
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I don't think I've ever had a sudden "Eureka!" moment which inspired me to be a scientist. There hasn't been one specific event which inspired my to follow a scientific career, but I have had lots of support from my parents, teachers and university lecturers/tutors who have helped me at each stage of my scientific career!
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had no clue
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really... I was a bit of a nerd!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Science journalist- although in my dreams I'd be a pro cyclist
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I'm really loving George Ezra and Haim at the moment
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I cycled across the UK last year- that was a pretty hard but fun day!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Silly wish: Being able to teleport! Work wish: Having more money for my experiments. Personal wish: Sometimes I wish I worried less about things going wrong!
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear the joke about the fungus? I would tell you, but it might need some time to grow on you...