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  • Lives Around Microscopy – (not all about the work)
  • Dr Peter O'Toole, Bioscience Technology Facility Director and Head of the Imaging and Cytology Laboratory, York University

Lives Around Microscopy – (not all about the work)

Nov 05 2020 Read 436 Times

Bringing microscopy to life, The Microscopists Podcast - a new series of insights that aim to be fun, engaging and inspiring – sees Peter O’Toole (University of York) hosting personal chats with world leading scientists who are all connected by their use and development of microscopes and microscope techniques. Looking at how they started out, what shaped their careers, what they find difficult and fun, the guests also reveal snapshots of their activities outside of work and the balancing act needed around their home lives. The content can be very diverse and jumps about a little to engage the audience at different levels. You do not have to be a microscopist to enjoy the content however; indeed very little is about their actual science.

Capturing the true nature and character of some of the great scientists of our time, the podcasts show that (most) are not all work, work, work, but that fun and enthusiasm for varied interests outside of work also feature strongly on the agenda - great for all to hear and which may be especially appreciated by early career and younger scientists. So read on and you will discover the underlying message in each; Follow your strengths and balance work with at least some fun and passion outside of work.

Featuring in some of the podcasts;

Hari Shroff (NIH–NIBIB) - Young, successful & disarming. Hari reveals what it was like to work in the exciting area of SRM during its infancy, and the early days of the @HHMIJanelia. He also chats about juggling work with a young family, his latest work and the efforts that go behind such a high impact publication while also talking about the advice and patience he needed when setting up his own lab.

Scott Fraser @USC – Is he a Chemist? Is he a Physicist? Is he a Biologist? Starting out in chemistry, he is all of these and now a natural cell biophysicist. Scott's natural humility is obvious as he talks career progression & his outside life passions. Having been behind so many innovations, Scott talks about how ideas are born & problems solved, via a coffee machine. He brings along his new kittens and shows us his many passions outside of work.

Ricardo Henriques really does star in the The Microscopists revealing his imposter syndrome and the benefits of having a multinational team, as well as his more light-hearted side, including dressing up as Batman (pictures included) and playing lego to help overcome grant rejection!

Alison North (Rockefeller – but from the UK) and Kurt Anderson (Crick – but from the USA!) chat about how they ended up running two of the words leading core facilities. They go on to discuss their academic careers which collided in Austria and how they migrated in to core facilities. Neither started out with a passion for microscopes. Most entertaining is their rivalry and how they balance work with outside life.

Jason Swedlow (The University of Dundee), whose open-source tools are revolutionising microscopy chats to Peter on a personal level including his decision to stop competitive road cycling through to his travels around the world. Taking a rest from being a leading jet setter, Jason is now enjoying lockdown and more time with his family while also still driving forward many international initiatives and balancing his research and company interests. He gives some great tips and tricks for getting to the top, as well as hear about his first microscope experiences!

Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (The Howard Hughes Medical Institute - Janelia Research Campus) has an informal chat with Pete that goes beyond kayaking to work and a passion for plants!  Jennifer explains how she became interested in Biology from her time teaching in Africa, and how she was fortunate enough in her early career to work alongside some of the true giants of cell biology.  Jennifer shares some great stories as to how these developments came about, what it is like to work in the Janelia Research Campus and how to Kayak to work (hint: don’t do it in the dark!).

Tony Wilson (University of Oxford) takes you through a brief history of how the confocal microscope came to be! Wearing his cowboy hat and boots throughout the interview, Tony talks about his passion for cattle, his Jaguar and Yorkshire cricket, and how finding life scientists to try this ‘new’ technique was not as simple as you may now think. It is an intriguing insight into the trials and tribulations of transforming a concept into a ubiquitous technique without which (arguably) several Nobel prizes may never have come to be. Beyond the confocal microscope, Tony also talks about the tribulations and opportunities he experienced in creating a spin-out company. This is a fascinating chat that captures the person and the science behind such vital developments in the world of microscopy.

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