Estelle Nassar and Tim Little in the Crick cafe

Science date: neurophysiology meets malaria

In our latest scientific blind date, Estelle and Tim talk about shaping your PhD project, learning new techniques and being passionate about your research.

 

What are science dates?

Making connections is at the heart of the Crick, but in a building of 1500 people it's impossible to meet everyone.

In our scientific 'blind dates' series, we bring together two Crick researchers who probably wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths. After learning about each other's work over a coffee in the Crick cafe, they speak to us afterwards to share how it went.

Estelle Nassar is a laboratory research officer in Jonny Kohl's group at the Crick. She's working on computational pipelines to analyse brain imaging data. 

Tim Little is a PhD student in Jean Langhorne's group at the Crick, studying the genomic makeup of malaria. 

Science date

Estelle Nassar

Estelle Nassar

 

What did you expect from the science date?

I expected an interesting conversation – and I got it!

What did you know about Tim’s research beforehand?

I didn’t know anything, to be honest. I’m a relatively new starter at the Crick and a new starter to biomedical research, so there are still lots of fields that I’m not very familiar with. My background is in engineering and I’m currently working in a neuroscience lab, so immunology was a complete unknown.

What did you talk about?

We spent almost the whole time talking about our research. We did talk a little bit about what we did before joining the Crick and found that we had a link through Imperial – I did my undergraduate degree there and Tim is currently enrolled at Imperial for his PhD.

Any surprises?

Not really. We talked about the fact that we are essentially moving in different directions between experimental biology and computational biology. I’m an engineer trying to learn more about wet lab techniques and working in a neuroscience group, and Tim is an immunologist with a wet lab background who is doing more computational work.

Did you pick up any tips?

We spoke a bit about how he had changed his PhD project to focus more on the computational side of things rather than the wet lab work that he was used to. I’ll be applying for PhDs next year and it helped me to realise that I have the agency to steer my project based on my own interests and needs. It’s going to be four years of my life – I want to know how it’s going to pan out!

Did anything get lost in translation? 

Nothing – he realised that I didn’t know much about his field and he explained everything really well. He had a knack for explaining biological concepts very clearly.

Can you imagine collaborating in the future? 

Probably not! I may be wrong, but I don’t think malaria can cross the blood-brain barrier!
 

Tim Little

Tim Little

 

What did you expect from the science date?

I was hoping to meet someone new from a totally different group at the Crick and that’s exactly what happened.

What did you know about Estelle’s research beforehand?

I mean – I knew what a brain was. But that might have been about it! I have a few friends that are working in the same general area, but I didn’t know too much about Estelle’s specific field of research.

What did you talk about?

Mostly our work! We meant to talk about other things, but we were both clearly so interested in each other’s projects that it took over the conversation a bit.

Any surprises?

I was a little bit surprised that she’s from a bioengineering background, but that’s not too shocking here. It was interesting to hear about how she’s got up to speed with biology in her project at the Crick, despite it being her first real experience of being a biologist. 

Did you pick up any tips?

She oozes enthusiasm for her work. I found it really easy to be interested in what she was talking about, because she found it fascinating herself. I think it’s really important to be show passion for your work as a scientist, and it reminded me how much of a difference it can make when you’re explaining your work to other people.

Did anything get lost in translation?

Not really. I always find neurophysiology a bit of a difficult one, but on the whole I was able to pick it up. However I think we would need a longer chat for me to figure out her project entirely!

Can you imagine collaborating in the future?

I think our fields are a bit too distant, unfortunately. Although she did describe some cool imaging techniques that I’d love to try out. Maybe you’ll see some 3D reconstructions of malaria parasites in the near future…?

Sign up for our newsletters

Join our mailing lists to receive updates about our latest research and to hear about our free public events and exhibitions.  If you would like to find out more about how we manage your personal information please see our privacy policy.