• Question: Why did you start to research this area?

    Asked by orangesandpeaches to Darren, Cathal, Daphne, Jon, Katherine on 13 Mar 2012. This question was also asked by travisblundell, bradleyl, hello13, jm12hi, sh123, ilovescience2991.
    • Photo: Darren Logan

      Darren Logan answered on 9 Mar 2012:

      I was always interested in how our genes influence who we are. Not so much diseases, but how they affect how we look, act or feel.

      During my PhD studies I researched pigmentation and how genes affect skin and hair colour. I was originally studying the genes that cause people to have red and ginger hair and pale freckled skin, but I got a little side-tracked when the lab next door to me brought some cute little zebrafish into the building. I was fascinated by how they could change their colour to match their background, so decided to work out how they managed to do this and what genes were involved.

      I learned that this is an example of an instinctive behavioural circuit: the fish see the colour of the bottom of their tank, and through a series of nerve impulses and hormones they quickly shuttle the pigment of their skin cells around to match that colour. From that point I was hooked on understanding the genes that control behaviour, so I decided to base my career around trying to understand more instincts, this time in mammals.

      So I guess I just followed what interested me at the time, and wasn’t afraid to change – which I think is a good way to choose your research area.

    • Photo: Katherine Haxton

      Katherine Haxton answered on 12 Mar 2012:

      In my final year at university we had to do a research project. When we were picking them, I went to see one academic who drew a picture of a very beautiful looking molecule on his whiteboard. I decided then that I wanted to make similar molecules and find good uses for them. Since then I’ve generally done what Darren said – followed what is interesting. You do things better when you’re interested in them.

    • Photo: Jon Benton

      Jon Benton answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      After studying chemistry as an undergraduate I knew I wanted to use my skills to do something that would be useful. I was also passionate about renewable energy and cutting down human reliance on fossil fuels. I knew I wanted to go into solar energy because I remember seeing a cartoon of cavemen with the big sun above them and the ground and them choosing to dig for energy instead of using the sun.

      I also hope that what I’m doing will contribute even if its in a tiny way to reduce energy consumption and help to preserve the planet for future generations and animals that live on it.

    • Photo: Daphne Ng

      Daphne Ng answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      I started researching on microalgae as a final year undergraduate student as my final year project. At that time, I thought microalgae were interesting and that since I really wanted to become a microbiologist, I thought they would be a good microorganism to study, Besides, they can be used to capture carbon dioxide and make useful stuff for us.

      For my PhD studies, I was hooked on my project so I stayed on in the same lab to continue research. And the rest is history.

      In short, I like my research to look at things from a different perspective and to have a meaningful impact on society.