Being a Biomedical Scientist: Danny Gaskin

Danny Gaskin shares the story so far and gives his advice for current students and early career scientists.

In conversation with Dimtrios Bitas

Danny Gaskin is a 28-year-old University of Salford alumnus from Accrington and an HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist. He completed his BSc Biomedical Science degree in 2018 and is currently employed as a Patient Blood Management Practitioner by NHS Blood and Transplant. In this interview Danny shares his career path and useful advice to current Biomedical Science Students.

Could you describe your career path as a Biomedical Scientist? What were your steps after completing your degree?   

Between the second and the third year of my degree, I applied and successfully completed a placement year in the Haematology department at Manchester Royal Infirmary. I graduated with a first-class honour’s degree and the IBMS Certificate of Competency, which meant that I could go straight into work as a Biomedical Scientist. My career path started up in the lake district at Furness General Hospital, however, I didn’t spend long there. An opportunity came up, and I moved down to the southwest and joined the haematology and transfusion team at Milton Keynes University Hospital. I absolutely loved my time there. I worked independently, got involved with all aspects of the quality management system, started my MSc degree, and overall, grew quickly as a scientist. Being an ambitious person, my time in Milton Keynes didn’t last long either. A new challenge to join the Pathology team at Spire Manchester Hospital came up. This was my first post as a Senior Biomedical Scientist, and I learned so much very quickly. I left Spire roughly a year later to join NHS Blood and Transplant. I’ve learned something from the positives and negatives of everywhere I have worked. I look for a learning opportunity in every experience and I believe that’s made me a better scientist and probably a better person. 

I’ve learned something from the positives and negatives of everywhere I have worked. I look for a learning opportunity in every experience and I believe that’s made me a better scientist and probably a better person. 

After having a look at your CV, someone can notice that you switched courses and went from studying Adult Nursing to Biomedical Science. What changed your mind?   

Before my biomedical science days, I studied Adult Nursing. The original plan was to train as an A&E nurse, but this only lasted about 18 months. During my first placement as a student nurse at the Haematology Day Unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary, I became fascinated by blood cells. I took up independent study on the different blood cells and the mechanisms that influence their production, replication, and destruction. I soon realised that a career in biomedical science was more suited to my interests.  

Can you tell us about your current job? 

I am currently employed as a Patient Blood Management Practitioner by NHS Blood and Transplant. My job involves work on activities designed to support Patient Blood Management in hospitals across London. This includes provision of an on-going programme of support, education, audit, research, and specialist transfusion advice. One of the most important elements of my job is building relationships with other healthcare professionals involved in blood transfusion, to ensure a co-ordinated approach to improving transfusion laboratory and clinical practice locally, regionally, and nationally. It’s a job that I really enjoy and get huge satisfaction from. I work with the most talented team of scientists, nurses, administrators and doctors and we really make a positive difference every day. 

It’s a job that I really enjoy and get huge satisfaction from. I work with the most talented team of scientists, nurses, administrators and doctors and we really make a positive difference every day.

What was your role as a Biomedical Scientist in Haematology and Blood Transfusion like? Can you describe a typical week at work?   

On a Monday, you might observe the presence of immature cells on a patient’s peripheral blood smear that you’re concerned might be indicative of a serious problem with the bone marrow, so you get in touch with the haematologist to escalate it. On Tuesday, you might be responding to major haemorrhage bleep to provide replacement blood for a patient that has been involved in an accident and lost a lot of blood. Wednesday might see you have to get the tools out and replace one of the probes on your analyser. Thursday might be a quiet day until you get the call from theatres to say that there had been some complications during childbirth and now a new mother is in desperate need of blood components. Thankfully, Friday is rest day. 

What advice would you give to current Biomedical Science students? What steps would you recommend them to take?   

Besides the obvious advice of working hard and putting the hours in, I would advise them to get involved with the university societies and the IBMS. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can whilst you’re a student. Some voluntary opportunities might first appear to be a lot of hard work for very little return, but there are transferable skills you can pull from any experience. Networking has had such a positive influence on my career to date. I’d suggest attending events, meetings and discussion groups. Build a social media presence. Make professional contacts and friends. Have fun and enjoy the process. Don’t let these three or four years pass you by without having fun. I miss university so much. 

Don’t let these three or four years pass you by without having fun. I miss university so much. 

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to succeed as a Biomedical Scientist?  

Often when I see this question, I go on to read about how one must be bright, have attention to detail, be data driven etc. which are all true, but actually I think first a foremost you need to be compassionate. You need to be able to always keep at the forefront of your mind that every single sample belongs to a person with a family that loves them and that are probably worried about the results you’re about to produce and report. You need to remember that every single task you perform in the laboratory, whether it’s analytical or administrative, is essential to uphold the high quality necessary to provide the minimum level of care we should all be striving for. If you’ve got that, and a passion for biomedical science, everything else can be taught.  

How can other people help or affect someone’s career? Were there any people who had a positive impact in your career development? 

My career path has been enjoyable but very fast paced. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some fantastic people in my career so far who have given me every opportunity to progress, and whether they have realised or not, they have helped me grow professionally and personally. Being surrounded by good people in a positive environment for learning is really important to me. I’ll be forever grateful to Dr Lucy Smyth and the University of Salford for the help and support required to switch and join the Biomedical science programme. At Furness General Hospital I met Stephen McDonald, Ola Yahaya, and Shehz Abdullah, three really talented scientists who supported me through the haematology and transfusion basics. Stephen, Ola, and I still work closely together on a few different projects and Shehz and I speak most days. All three became friends for life. At Milton Keynes University Hospital I met some of the most knowledgeable and humble biomedical scientists and I learned so much so quickly. 

You often talk about the value of networking, particularly through social media and what significant role it has played in your own career. What would be your advice to a biomedical science student looking to start networking through Twitter for example? 

There is a huge biomedical science community on Twitter. You can get involved with #IBMSChat and @WEBMScienitsts. Twitter is an immensely valuable tool for networking. I have met so many scientists on Twitter who have positively influenced my career in one way or another. Twitter and other social media platforms make the world so much more accessible. One thing I will say about Twitter is that it can sometimes feel like work from work. This is particularly true if you only follow biomedical science accounts and only engage with other scientists. Shutting off from work is important. Don’t be afraid to be yourself on Twitter too. I don’t believe that you should separate your personal and ‘science’ accounts. Not unless you want to, or your employer insists you should.  I like that I can get to know the people behind the science, and I hope that people can get to know me too.  

You can follow Danny on Twitter (@NHSDanny) for some useful blood transfusion content, real time football, and boxing punditry. Use the #AskinGaskin hashtag for any questions. Danny is approachable and would love to hear from students and early career scientists. 

The Emerging Role of a Physician Associate: Interview with a PA

Aspiring medical professional, Patricia Medeiros, outlines this emerging role and interviews qualified physician associate, Thomas Smyth.


Dr Eugene Stead (the US chairman of the Department of Medicine) founded the physician associate (PA) profession in 1965. There was a prominent shortage of physicians and other medical providers, resulting in a higher demand for healthcare professionals1. As a response to this, Dr Stead initiated the PA course; a 2-year medical masters with a fast-paced curriculum, similar to the 3-year medical curriculum used to train doctors in World War II2. However, due to the knowledge required, potential candidates could only matriculate if they had previous health-related training. Following the graduation of the first PA cohort, other US universities incorporated the PA course in their medical schools. Numerous countries around the world have since developed their own versions of the course, including the UK.

The UK formally introduced the PA profession in 2003. The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) defines PAs as medically qualified professionals with a generalist healthcare background3. PAs are an emerging role in the NHS and an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. They are dependent practitioners, working in liaison with medical supervisors, these commonly being consultants and surgeons. However, with the appropriate training, PAs can work autonomously.

During the course, PA students attend a series of clinical placements in primary care (GPs) and secondary care (hospitals). These placements include a variety of medical specialties, such as, paediatrics, GP, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and more. After qualifying, PAs can choose to reside in a single area of medicine, but they also have the option to move between specialties. As part of the multidisciplinary team, PAs have become increasingly prevalent within the world of medicine and more widely recognised in the healthcare sector. PAs are not doctors; the PA role was designed to develop generalist clinicians as opposed to a specialised healthcare professional. For example, Drs commonly train to become ‘specialists’ in one area of medicine and PAs train to become ‘generalists’ in many areas of medicine. PAs have obtained a previous health-related degree, whereby certain areas of that degree incorporate key components of medicine. Therefore, providing them with a subsequent generalist medical education, develops competent individuals with the ability to work in varying areas.  

There are, approximately, 30 universities in the UK offering the physician associate course. To become a qualified PA, applicants are firstly required to achieve a 1st class (or a 2.1 honours) in a 3 to 4 year undergraduate degree. This degree has to be in a science or health-related subject. Examples of these include, biomedicine, pharmacology and medical sciences. Following this, an additional 2 years of the PA masters (MSc) or the postgraduate diploma (PGdip) is required (or alternatively, a 4 to 5 year MPAS). PAs are also required to complete a series of university exams, a national exam, assessments, OSCEs, and more in order to qualify4. After qualifying, PAs are then further trained in a specialty of their choosing, with many completing internship years or, alternatively, rotational posts. As with many other medical professionals, PAs must also sit a recertification exam every 6 years. This exam encompasses all areas of medicine, regardless of the area the PA is currently working in. This ensures that all PAs maintain a general knowledge of medicine for patient care and safety.   

As physician associates study postgraduate level medicine, once they qualify, they are able to: diagnose and treat their own patients; formulate management plans; perform surgical procedures; run clinics; take medical histories; carry out physical examinations and more. Currently, PAs in the UK do not; sign off prescriptions, request ionising radiation or have licenses to work in certain countries. However, PAs in other countries, such as the US, do not have these limitations. This is mainly because the PA role in the UK is newly established and currently not regulated. However, in 2022, the General Medical Council (GMC) will become the official new statutory regulator for PAs. This means that the current limitations are being re-evaluated with plans for prescribing rights, licenses to work abroad and a clear progression pathway for the role5


With guest editing by Afnan Housein and Nabiha Ahmed


“I did my undergraduate degree in sports rehabilitation at the University of Salford and graduated in 2015. Then, I completed the PA course at the University of Manchester and I did the PGdip, not the MSc, so I didn’t need to do an additional thesis at the end of the course.”  


“I was in the very first cohort, in the northwest, back in 2016. As the course was quite new, I didn’t know what experiences were applicable, so I tried to make everything as relevant to healthcare as possible. Luckily, with my sports rehabilitation degree, I already had placements in the NHS setting, like working with orthopaedic surgeons in hospital. Unfortunately, a lot of students now won’t have as much experience due to COVID-19, so universities are being slightly more lenient. We do have a mentor scheme at Salford Royal called the PA Academy and there’s also the North West PA Forum so people can get in touch for an insight into the role. We understand that students are doing their best under the current circumstances.”   


“A useful tip that I was told, was using a ‘SEE’ approach, which is a ‘skill’, then an ‘experience’ relating to that skill, then an ‘elaboration’ on that and how it applies to everyday needs. Also, always link experiences to healthcare, even if they are not directly in a healthcare setting.  Try not to waffle – whoever is reading your personal statement is trying to gain an understanding of your knowledge and experiences from a short-written piece.”


“I actually interview applicants at Manchester and the process now is different from when I applied. Back then, we had to go to Hayfield Racecourse because I think there were 500 of us and only 140 places, spread between 3 universities. We had MMI (multiple mini interview) stations and if you got through, then you got a place at one of the 3 universities based on what you scored. It was very intense, but I think interviewers are looking for students that can understand and distinguish the PA role from other allied professions. It is also good to be knowledgeable on the NHS and its core values, data protection and more.”   


“Yes, I always wanted to study medicine and I did a lot of research into it and found the PA course which, honestly, really resonated with me. I did a sports rehabilitation degree, so I already knew a lot about the human body and how it functions, but I wanted to know more. I think that a key factor in studying medicine to be a Dr. and studying medicine to be a PA, is that the course itself is 2 years, but it’s a postgraduate masters, so you need knowledge from another 3-4 year degree. After that, you can then still go into any specialty whilst maintaining a generalist approach. So because we are generalists, we can transition between specialties, without restarting our training, so I really liked that flexibility.”  


“The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree; I went back and did trauma and orthopaedics and I just fell in love with the role at Salford Royal hospital, especially the surgical element to it. So, I think the most interesting case I’ve had was a bone transportation surgery. Unfortunately, a patient had a high trauma road-traffic accident and a large portion of the bone in their leg was missing. We have a phenomenal team of specialist surgeons called the limb recon team. So, we did a bone transportation where we physically cut a segment of the bone and transported it millimetre by millimetre each day, and you could actually see the bone regrowing, it was amazing.”

Physician Associate, Thomas Smyth (Instagram-@Thomasthepa) 


“For me personally, it would have to be the flexibility and the work-life balance. I’m in many different places throughout the week. I’m a PA ambassador and a guest lecturer too. I’m also in theatre for surgery a lot and I run my own clinics, so I enjoy that. But I think if I was to improve anything, it would be the recognition of PAs. There are a few misconceptions about the role and it’s undervalued at the moment because it’s quite new in the UK and people don’t always know what we can do.”  


“When I first started, they weren’t quite sure on what the role was, so I was often having to explain. I was also trying to fit in this huge, already well-established, medical team. But as soon as I got past that, there was a huge gap to be filled. Me and the other PAs don’t really rotate around; we’re there to offer patient continuity so we know the system. Since we’ve been there for 3 years, we’re able to teach the junior doctors that come in and get them into the system very quickly.  We can free up the ward time for the juniors, so that they can go into theatre and into clinics and get all these extra experiences, so actually, we do work very well together.” 


“GMC doesn’t really change my role, but it would make it slightly easier. I work in a profession where I need both ionising imaging and to prescribe, but the doctors are there for support and vice versa.  But equally, I am a bit sceptical because with the GMC regulation, PAs may become more prevalent on the wards without much support from the doctors. But overall, I think it’s a great thing because PAs can expand their scope of practice.”   


“Personally, I had a great experience, so choosing to be a PA was a success story in itself, I definitely recommend it. I would say though, students need a clear distinction as to which medical model they want to study, whether that’s a PA medical model or a Dr. medical model.  Any aspiring PAs are welcome to look at our mentor scheme or contact me on social media with any other questions!”

Find Thomas on Instagram:
To find out more about the mentor scheme, visit

Students at the University of Salford can join the Graduate Entry Medicine, Dentistry and Physician Associate Mentoring Scheme for guidance and mentoring with PA applications. For more information on this, please contact


1.        Longmire D. The Use of Physician Assistants for Health and Wellness in Aging Population.; 2020. Accessed February 18, 2021.
2.        Brady MI. A Survey Assessing Patient Satisfaction with Physician Assistant Care at the Maple Street Clinic.; 2004. Accessed February 18, 2021.
3.        Reynard K, Brown R. A clinical analysis of the emergency medicine workforce crisis. Br J Hosp Med. 2014;75(11):612-616. doi:10.12968/hmed.2014.75.11.612
4.        Murphy DC, Harvey A. Jeannine Watkins is a physician associate. BMJ. 2020;371:m3858. doi:10.1136/bmj.m3858
5.        Ghadiri SJ. Physician associates: an asset for physician training and a 21st-century NHS? Futur Healthc J. 2020;7(3):e9-e10. doi:10.7861/fhj.teale-7-3

Salford Lecturers Dr Sara Namvar and Aimee Pinnington

In conversation with Caitlin Owen

Describe your journey from college student to now 

SARA: “I’m a lecturer in biomedical sciences, but I didn’t do a degree in that. I teach cell biology, physiology and anatomy. I come from a research focused background, only coming into teaching two years ago.  
   “In college, I always wanted to do medicine. All my family went to university, but not to study medicine. I didn’t go to private school, and I’ve always lived in an inner-city area, so there wasn’t that mentor to support medicine applications. 
   “I didn’t get into medicine, but neuro-science had caught my attention as a plan B. I got on to that. It was really hard core; I struggled and failed MANY modules! I re-sat the vast majority of my exams in first and second year. I think I had a lot of anxiety at the time but didn’t realise it, so my sleep was all over the place.
   “In the third year, I think I had more of a support network. I really improved and managed to pass my degree in the end with a 2:1 – that was a very steep trajectory!
   “There was a lot more funding knocking about those days, so I ended up doing my final year project in a lab at the University of Manchester and then asked, ‘Can I do a PhD?’ It turned out there was one available. It was with AstraZeneca as well. So, then I had a four-year funded studentship with significant industry contribution and extended placement. I had an excellent PhD supervisor who was so understanding – I was inexperienced, but the PhD made me. I spent a significant amount of time at AstraZeneca, and it was very regimented. They would pick me up if I made a mistake. I had to face a lot of red tape and telling off in the first year, but I think it helped me develop resilience – accepting all the tough feedback, crying about it if you need to, but then acting on it.

Dr Sara Namvar photographed by @InzarVideo

I didn’t have a career plan… I just decided to focus on what I was enjoying. 

   “I enjoyed every moment of my PhD. After that, I just knew I wanted to be a postdoc.  
   “A postdoc is somebody who is very heavily involved in a research project. You’re not a lecturer, you have some very small bits of teaching, but the major responsibility is research. You work on set big projects, spend a lot of time in the lab, and you’re busy writing papers. It’s like a continuation of the PhD student role, but with more responsibility. I did, about seven or eight years of post-doctoral research at the University of Manchester.
   “I considered a couple of times leaving academia because I can see there is this bottleneck in going from your degree to PhD, to actually securing a permanent post. It’s an extremely slim chance of making that transition, and to be in a heavy research institution. I looked at a lot of other places to work. But finally, a job came up here at Salford. It went well, and I was offered the job that evening. 
   “I didn’t have a career plan after I didn’t get into medicine. I just decided to focus on what I was enjoying.” 

Describe your journey from college student to now 

AIMEE: “I thought I wanted to do medicine, applied, got in everywhere. I was the first  from both of my parents’ families to go to university, went to quite a rough, inner-city school, so no sort of support, like Sara talked about. But, because my parents both worked in a hospital, it was very easy for me to get work experience. I got placements everywhere. The GP even lived next door! 
   “But then the more work experience I did, the more I realised I hated it. My dad came home to me crying in the kitchen trying to get stuff ready for university. He said, ‘Aimee, you don’t you don’t have to go’.
   “I said to him, ‘I think I want to be a scientist; I don’t think I want to be a doctor’. I like all the theory, and I want to help people. But every time I came off a ward I was in tears, and all I could see trying to get sleep at night was whichever patients were treated that day, and death. 
  “We spoke to the head of course for Keele University and she said told me to come to her on clearing day. That’s what I did, and I got in, at a university only about 30 minutes away from home, to do biomedical science.  
  “It was one of the best three years of my life, I loved it from start to finish. I did a placement in my second year, but it wasn’t  a year out like at Salford: I worked through  Easter and summer break. Then I graduated with a 1:1. With an IBMS certificate of competence already, I worked as a BMS immediately – but I was in the wrong speciality. I worked in anti-coagulation, a subset of haematology. It’s patient facing – a lot of community clinics. Patients can think you’re a doctor or nurse. If you’re a man doing clinics, they think you’re a doctor, as a woman, they thought I was a nurse. I wanted people to know I was a scientist, and that there are other health-care professionals involved in treatment.
  “So I waited for jobs to come up in haematology and transfusion, where I really wanted to work… 6 months later, I got a BMS post there. I’ve been there since!  
   “I’ve done the specialist portfolio, and I did a masters in 2018. I did get on to do a funded master’s straight after my under-graduate degree, which would have been great. But when I got what I considered my dream job at Stoke, they said, ‘We can’t give you the time off to go and do this master’s, so you choose: do the masters, or work with us.’ So, I gave up the masters and went to work with them instead. 

The more I did, the more I realised I hated it.

   “Later I did my masters at Chester University – I wouldn’t recommend this – full time while I was full time on shifts. I did it in a year and it was a bit intense, but it was great. That is what ended up getting me into this job at Salford, because I was asked to go back and do some guest lecturing, and I really enjoyed it. Something I always enjoyed in the lab was training people and doing one-to-one sessions. I came home from a guest lecture at Chester and told my boyfriend, ‘That was great. I wish I could do more of that.’ He suggested looking online for jobs, and it was the closing date for one at Salford. I can be impulsive, but it works sometimes. 
   “A week later I came for the interview. I sweated my way through most of it I was so nervous. I assumed I haven’t got it, because I heard nothing for two weeks. In the interview, they mentioned how I was younger and less experienced than other candidates and didn’t live in Manchester. 
   “But when Lucy Smyth rang me and said, ‘Do want to work with us?’ That was that! 
   “Yeah, I felt quite daunted coming to work at the uni. I shouldn’t have done, because it isn’t that kind of environment. But one thing I think is funny is that in the online classrooms everyone is Dr. something, and I am just Aimee Pinnington, because I don’t have a PhD, and some students pick up on it. But I think my advice to students would be to not feel limited by not perceiving yourself to be on the same level as others.” 

Aimee Pinnington pictured at her graduation ceremony


AP: “I don’t think anyone put pressure on me apart from myself, but I think that comes from that societal pressure that you’re talking about. Nobody had gone to university and in school I was straight A-stars – without trying. I was just lucky. When I went to college, that changed. I had to try really hard, and then I tried really hard with my degree. My grandparents are from what would could be considered a lower-class background, and they were so ecstatic. I honestly thought, ‘Oh, my God they’ll be so let down if I don’t do this’.  
   “When we had to apply for work experience in year 10, my teachers said I had to do the medicine ones. They were trying to encourage me, but I wanted somebody to say, ‘What do you want?” 

I don’t really run a classical career course. But it’s right for me.

   “I did go through quite a classic route until I finished my degree. I was 20. When I got my first BMS job, being one of the babies of the year, I haven’t even hit 21. Yet I was in what was perceived to be an extreme job, and I did really enjoy it. But then I started splintering off, doing my master’s later, and now I do this job split. I don’t really run a classical career course. But it’s right for me. 
   “I want to stay working as a scientist. And once you get to the lab management level – you rarely have on a lab coat. Their roles must be really challenging in other ways, but I want to stay working as a scientist.
   “But I also love the teaching. I taught all through university as a ballroom and Latin dance teacher. I tried to stay doing that, did four nights a week teaching dance while at university, and I just missed it. 
   “When I was younger, I used to quite regularly be full force, and then I’d have a week, where I literally couldn’t get out of bed, and then I wouldn’t learn from it. Now that I’m older I’m more self-aware and I avoid the burnout better now. 


AP: “I used to work a 6am-2pm, 9am-5.30pm, 12pm-8pm, 6pm-6am, or 6am-6pm at the weekends. Every day in the week would be different, you could go from a night shift back to an early shift to back to a night shift. It was very random; you didn’t do like a block of a week of each.  And then in the mix of that you had on-call work as well. So, if I finished a core day, which was 09.00-17.30, I’d come home with a bleep, and I could be phoned any time until six o’clock the next morning to go back in. 

is it important, then, to take into consideration not just what you enjoy but also the actual working life, the tasks, the hours you’ll work?

AP: “Yeah, definitely. Even when I was there on nights, I still enjoyed my work. And actually, in a way, I enjoyed that more because you work a lot more independently, you run the entire section on your own, so you know where everything is. You don’t have to rely on anyone else.  

SN: “As a comparison, and in terms of my life as a PhD student, it was very much 09.00-17.00 and then some bedtime reading. So, I’d have a research article – I loved, I still love, reading – so I would gladly read a handful of research articles, through the course of the week as my bedtime reading and at weekends. Then as a as a postdoc, I’d say that that pattern has continued in all my postdoctoral years. And there’s travel involved. It’s great going to conferences and that sort of thing. 
   “Now, as an academic, it’s highly variable, you’ll have a week where it’s nine to five, and that’s good enough, and you’ll have other times where you’re working 12 hours a day, and also getting up Sunday morning to do stuff. It comes in massive peaks, and then you have periods where it’s actually calm, and it’s a nine to five, normal job, and it’s okay. 


AP: “I enjoy most having a direct impact on  patients. That leukaemia that I found yesterday – there’s about an hour, where I will be the only person who knows that that patient has leukaemia, and that’s a really privileged position. How I deal that will directly affect the patient’s chances. If I get that wrong, and they start them on treatment wrong for the patient, then that can be catastrophic, and now that I’m teaching at Salford, I know a lot of the students who I interact with will go away and do the same thing. I think that’s a position of privilege and that’s the bit that I love the most.” 

SN: “I enjoy different things at different times. Obviously, there’s all the Biomed Soc and GEMMS stuff, I massively enjoy all of that, because you can see the students are enjoying it. I intermittently enjoy research. Nothing can compare to when you get a positive result in the lab, a paper accepted or even a grant! But success in research is infrequent. Grants and papers get rejected and experiments fail. 

That’s an interesting insight. It sounds a  bit like, with research, that the highs are high, but partly because the lows are low. 

SN: “That’s what it is. When you’re a PhD student, and you’re a postdoc, it’s such a laugh in the lab, because there’s loads of students, the radio is on and you’re just having a real good time and following protocols that you’re good at. Especially because you become quite technically excellent, and all PhDs and postdocs do, but when you become an independent academic, you become quite detached from that first-hand lab experience. You pop your head in and you talk to research students, if you’re lucky you train them. And so yeah, you kind of end up losing that kick when you become a lecturer. You don’t really get that very often. 

Seems like you touched on what you would wish to be different there. Aimee, is there anything you would like to change? 

AP:  “Being self-aware to the point where you do not feel like it’s a bad thing to say, actually, what I really need is to have a break. I really need to just take this weekend off. I think that comes with a bit more awareness. Maybe as you get older, I’m not sure I would have had the capacity to do that at university. 
   “It’s really interesting. As a teacher, I think a lot of the students are really amazing and do things that I definitely couldn’t have done at their age or experience level. Which is strange because like I said, I’m 26, I’m not that much older than the students. But wow, there must have been a big change since I left University in my own development, to spot those things. 
   “Sometimes, with external pressures, all the pressure we put on ourselves, we don’t listen. I think all of us should do more to listen to ourselves. You know what’s right for yourself, don’t you?” 

Nothing can compare to when you get a positive result in the lab… but success in research is infrequent.

AP: “I feel more optimistic, to be honest, having done this interview. Doing things like this, it does make you think that ‘this is why we do it’.  

SN: “A bit of self-reflection.”