Schools’ Day 2020: Our scientists answer students’ questions (Part One)

10 February, 2020

Schools’ Day 2020: Our scientists answer students’ questions (Part One)

Schools’ Day 2020: Our scientists answer students’ questions (Part One)

Since 1994 the Babraham Institute has run Schools’ Day – an annual event held at the Institute where approximately 200 secondary and sixth-form students and their teachers get hands-on with cutting-edge research in our laboratories and scientific facilities, meet researchers and discover more about careers in science. This year we invited students to submit their own questions to our researchers ahead of the event on Wednesday 26th February.

We received questions from several participating schools and passed them on to a range of our researchers for comment. We’ve compiled their replies to some of the most frequently asked questions to give a range of perspectives and experiences. While there are variations between answers, you’ll see that there are also a lot of similarities. You can learn more about the range of careers at The Babraham Institute on our People Page


What made you want to be a scientist?

“I participated in a forensic workshop in school and immediately fell in love with molecular biology. Although my first experiment - a Polymerase Chain Reaction from my own DNA - did not work at all, I was so fascinated by the theoretical and practical approaches and possibilities, that I started studying molecular biology the following year.”
Jasmine – Research Fellow

“When I was about fifteen years old I saw a poster that illustrated human cellular metabolism which blew my mind and I knew then that I wanted to understand how our biology works at a molecular and cellular level.”
Cheryl – Grants Manager

“My favourite subjects at school were Biology and Chemistry, so I decided to study Biochemistry at University. While it didn't turn out to be quite as simple as a mash up of these two subjects, I discovered that for me it was the best (and most interesting) bits of biology, understanding the details of what's happening inside our cells.

Doing science yourself at the bench is incredibly different from learning about it in class, and it wasn't until I had my fair share of work experience that I knew it was something I wanted to make my full time job! A career in science is great for people who ask a lot of questions - and I have certainly always been one of those, just ask my mum!”
Izzy – PhD Student


What have been the highs and lows of your career so far?

“For me, the low was starting a career in a different field and realising that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, before re-training as a scientist. My high has been getting my PhD and my first job as a research scientist here at the Babraham Institute.”
Jenny – Postdoctoral Researcher

“My lows have been experiments not working for months on end - meaning that you need to be determined and resilient as a researcher. The reward is the high of getting something to work and finding something out that no one knew before.”
Cheryl – Grants Manager

“The high point of my time in science so far was definitely being accepted into my PhD programme based here at the Babraham Institute. I really wanted to be part of this project as the science excited me, but I also was following advice to choose not only great science, but also a supportive supervisor. The low points unfortunately come in the lab when experiments you are working on just aren't working and you can't figure out why - this can be very frustrating and motivation can suffer. This is why resilience is important for a career in science.”
Izzy – PhD Student


Part One: What made you want to be a scientist and what have been the highs and lows of your career?

Part Two: How important are maths and computing in the biological sciences?

Part Three: Do I need a degree to succeed in science?