Baring all in pursuit of cell cultures

April 6, 2007

Name : Renata Gomes.

Age : 21.

Job : Medical and forensic sciences student, Bradford University.

Education : I was educated in Portugal and I am now finishing my degree before starting a PhD in medical biosciences next summer.

Working hours : They are normally very long as I am always in the lab, producing manuscripts, or in lectures. I am able to get some weekends off and I get about three weeks holiday a year, as well as "working" holidays.

Number of students and staff you work with : I am doing research at the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders with a team of two professors, four PhDs and three postgraduates. I also interact with other research groups such as the cutaneous biology team, the cancer therapeutics team and the organic chemistry group.

Biggest challenge : Trying to identify some very rare cells within the human skin, called Merkell cells. It has been a wild piece of work; I would consider it on a par with rocket science!

How you solved it : It is not solved yet. It is ongoing, but I can see a solution to it in the not too distant future. This has only been possible because I decided to approach other scientists and they have been kind enough to collaborate.

Worst moment in university life : Getting locked out of my flat at student halls wearing only a towel after a shower. A few minutes later, as I was trying to get back in, the fire alarm went off and the building had to be evacuated. Everyone saw me, and the towel was horrible - white with red hearts! It was January and freezing outside.

What is your working space like? Spacious, bright, warm and clean - and extremely organised. It also has access to good catering facilities and information data banks.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Yes, I believe it is important to do so and to get to know them a bit. After all, I work with them every day.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally, and how do you cope with them? I can't stand arrogant people : why do they think the world revolves around them? When I have to deal with them, I just switch my brain off and smile.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? Yes, a lot, especially with other research teams - some are from different departments.

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