The Microscopists takes you into revealing, entertaining, and personal meetings with the great microscopists of our time. Your host is Dr. Peter O’Toole. Peter will help you understand what drives great, successful scientists, what really inspires them and what they enjoy most in life.
This set of candid, fun, and engaging interviews serves not only to help inspire upcoming scientists but to show how career tracks and work-life balance are managed by some of the best. Not only are they great at work, but they have some amazing stories to tell about their lives outside science.
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Join this informal chat with Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). 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.
Very few cell biologists have had so many major impacts on the field, and underpinning most of her work was the use of the microscope, with many discoveries going hand-in-hand with the development of microscopy itself.
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!).
Step into a brief history of how the confocal microscope came to be! Peter O’Toole chats with one of the pioneers of the confocal microscope: Tony Wilson from the University of Oxford.
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.
In this episode, Peter O’Toole chats to Jason Swedlow of the University of Dundee, whose open-source tools are revolutionising microscopy. While Peter has known Jason for many years, this was a great opportunity to find out more about Jason 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.
Catch Jason at home and hear about what motivates him. You’ll discover some great tips and tricks for getting to the top, as well as hear about his first microscope experiences!
Ever wonder how people end up working in a core facility? You are about to find out. In this show, Peter O’Toole welcomes Alison North from the Rockefeller University in New York and Kurt Anderson from the Francis Crick Institute in London. Alison, originally from the UK, now works in the USA, while Kurt is from the USA but now works in the UK. So there’s an interesting dynamic to this interview!
Both Alison and Kurt are internationally renowned in the world of microscopy, but neither started out with a passion for microscopes and nor did their current roles even exist when they were in their early postdoc days. They talk about their early careers, getting established, and how they balance work with outside life. They share their interests, from Kayaking to serious mountain biking, supporting rival baseball teams, and discuss Alison’s extraordinary collection of New York Yankee caps and tops.
There’s no doubt that Ricardo’s career so far has been stellar. He’s moved up the career ladder at lightning speed, starting his own group in 2013, following only a brief postdoc, to holding a professorial position and starting another lab at IGC. This is especially impressive given that his original BSc was in physics!
In this episode, Ricardo reveals how imposter syndrome can affect anyone, with his thoughts and feelings on his first day as a group leader at UCL. We also see Ricardo’s more light-hearted side, including dressing up as Batman at a monthly UCL cocktail hour (pictures included) and how playing with lego can help overcome grant rejection.
It would be fair to say that Scott Fraser has influenced the microscopy community more than most. As the person behind the Meta detector, he made a massive impact on the microscopy community and is now seeing these adaptations being adopted in other fields again. But how did Scott find himself in such a position? It appears as though his coffee machine is the answer behind most inventions!
This episode reveals just how personable Scott is, along with his natural humility. Scott also shows his softer side, as he is joined by his new kittens in his Rudolf Schindler house (worth tuning in for itself!). He also discusses how he has had to improvise and invent new gadgets to protect his home-made amps from his new kittens.
More episodes will be released every two weeks. Follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, YouTube, or via RSS feed and stay tuned for inspiring guests!