“Science doesn’t know the days of the week!” -L.P.

It was a beautiful warm autumn  morning when I walked into the lab this morning- yes I am in on a Saturday. I even saw a few Chancellor’s Fellows playing tennis in the Meadows! Unfortunately, while I was tending to my cells, the clouds came in and it started raining…

I am only 5 weeks into my PhD and so far I have only had 2 full weekends off. This is something that most PhD students will start to experience at some point or another during their 3-4 years. As my fellow postgrad students pointed out last year, science doesn’t know the days of the week or the time of day. Certain aspects of science will require you to be at the mercy of your experiments: the day you need to passage your cells, the time window you have for imaging your cells,  the time your drosophila larvae hatch, that 12h timepoint… Although you try hard to plan everything so that you do have your weekends off and you don’t have to trudge into the lab at 6 am, sometimes that just won’t work. That being said, I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan out your experiments ahead of time so you know exactly what you are doing. I quite like planning out experiments and making lists, for the time being I am organised and on top of things. Let’s just hope it stays that way!

I actually don’t mind coming in on the weekend. I get the place to myself! I mostly come in to get ahead in my experiments and have a more laid-back week, well that is the rationale behind it, even if it doesn’t always work.

I may come across as someone who spends all her time in the lab, but I assure you that in the past month I have done other things. Last week, I went to the Medical Detectives series lecture given by Dr Richard Chin on childhood epilepsy. These talks are hosted by the University of Edinburgh and are open to the public. They emphasise the importance of observation, deduction and sleuthing which medics still must use today to find a diagnosis and treat patients. The format is inspired by one of the University’s most well-known alumni, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes. The lectures are actually given in the anatomy lecture theatre of the old medical school where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have actually had his classes! For all of his fans out there, there is also a plaque on the house where he used to live in George Square!

We also had the first Postgrad Social Seminar Series of the academic year. These are monthly talks by postgrad students for postgrad students organised by a committee of postgrad students in the Centre for Integrative Physiology. It is a great way to practice presenting in front of a group of your peers in an informal setting. There is also pizza, beer, crisps and smoothies, which is quite nice. For this month’s seminar we just got the chance to meet other students in the building and network. This is important, especially when you spend your days in the lab, or in my case looking down a microscope.

As a self-proclaimed geek and because I studied and I am doing a PhD on a neuroscience topic, I would just like to say how excited I am about the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine being awarded to John O’Keefe (who did his MA and PhD at McGill University- my alma mater) and May-Britt Moser and Edvar Moser who did their postdocs with Richard Morris (as in the Morris water maze) in Edinburgh for their work on place and grid cells. It is all very exciting!

Now off to make my presentation for lab meeting…