What did you expect from the science date?
I was really just looking forward to meeting someone that I wouldn’t have met on my own. Even though it’s quite easy to bump in to people around the Crick, there are always going to be people who you just wouldn’t come across normally.
What did you know about Deniz’s area of research beforehand?
I knew the absolute basics from studying biology at university, but that was about it.
What did you talk about?
We covered quite a lot of ground – we talked a lot about our work and how we ended up at the Crick, as well as what it’s like living in London and how often we travel back home.
I liked talking to her about how our research is perceived by other people. People have generally heard of ancient DNA and have an idea of what it means, even if they think that it sounds like something out of science fiction.
Deniz works on yeast and we agreed that telling someone that you work on ancient DNA samples gets a very different reaction than telling people that you work on yeast!
However, Deniz did remind me that yeast can surprise people as well. Most people can’t wrap their head around the fact that cells will always behave in certain ways, whether they’re a lone yeast cell or part of a large organism.
Honestly, how close she lives to the Crick! I think she’s the only person I know that lives within walking distance.
Did you pick up any tips?
Deniz told me that she takes part in the Crick’s public Meet a Scientist sessions, and brings along yeast samples for people to look at through microscopes. It sounds really fun and sometimes talking to people who aren’t scientists about your research reminds you that your day job is actually really cool.
Did anything get lost in translation?
Not really. When I first mentioned to Deniz that I work on ancient DNA, she mentioned the dinosaur femur that was found in France recently. Unfortunately, I had to burst her bubble a bit and explain that it’s not the kind of sample I work with because it’s too old to have any DNA preserved.
Can you imagine collaborating in the future?
Unfortunately not. Our fields are so, so different. It was great to find out more about her work but I don’t think that collaborating would be helpful for either of us!