University of Aberdeen Takes you to the main page for this section
Elphinstone Kist   Work

A Day in the life o a Scientist     by: Birnie, Linda

It's a bit o a trauchle tae pit doon a day in the life o a scientist, for if truth be kent, nae twa days are the same.There's a lot o flexibility wirkin the day in the scientific environment an the job can cheenge ooto aa recognition as the focus o the wark shifts. Me, I'm an agricultural biologist, wirkin in animal sciences.

So mebbe a typical day wid start at hauf past echt. I'd colleck ma post frae ma kiepie on ma main fleer, makk a cup o coffee an tak twa fleers up till ma desk. I micht share ma office wi at least ae ither scientist, cause times is hard, as we aye keep hearin. I'd check ma post. A lot o't wid be jist dirt ... circulars frae some firm needin me tae order their chemicals or antibodies or some bit o equipment. There micht be information frae inside or ootside the organisation that I need tae ken, new regulations fur something or ither, an there micht be correspondence relatin tae publishin papers ... oor main role in life... in some form or anither. That dealt wi, I'd check ma E.Mail. Fit a rare eese! I can correspond wi a colleague in Ireland, Australia, or Spain, jist
at the flick o a key, an expeck tae get a reply bi dennertime.

Syne I pit on ma fite coat an get intil the lab far it aa happens! A common procedure wad be tae use a technique tae meisur hormones in bleed or some ither body fluids. This micht be deen wi samples fae sheep or beasts,or some ither craiturs. They've likely been pitten on a trial diet tae see fit it dis tae the wye they growe, an fit it dis tae their body chemistry tae try an
wirk oot fit the mechanisms o action are.Sae settin up an assignment micht takk till dennertime, an meebe yer dennertime isna yer ain. Ye micht takk yer mag. an yer sandwiches an listen tae some chiel or uman gie a speil aboot their research. Syne folk speir questions, yon bein a pairt o the peer review process, an ye hiv tae be able tae defend yer saves haein fiascos like the genetically modified tatties affair, if aathing is thrashed oot amang yer fellow scientists afore it gangs for public consumption. For if they canna unnerstaun it, naebody will!

The aifterneen micht be spent in a meetin, plannin the next bout o research, an far the money's comin frae. Scientists tend tae be hired fur a year, or mebbe twa or three. At the eyn o 'at, ye need tae raise cash sae ye can cairry on wi yer investigations. Yer success at this nae only depens on academic an communication abilities, bit also on fit's the flavour o the month! If yer subject's nae sexy, ye've nae chaunce! Syne, mebbe at fower o clock ye've a meetin wi a student. Scientists are aften approached bi students needin tae dee a research project in this area. If aabody is agreed, then the supervisor an student wirk thegither tae come up wi a reasonable an interestin projeck, plan it, cairry it oot an get it written up. The student supervisor relationship is important, as they will wirk closely thegither. Aye, an things dinna aye ging tae plan, sae it helps if ye get on.Ye micht takk a couple o oors tae look through fit a student his written fur a thesis, an gie comments on fit needs tae be cheenged, sae efter that ye micht be leavin the buildin at 6pm. If ye hiv experiments rinnin ye hiv tae jist bide an look efter them.
So a scientist's job can involve lang oors wi wikkeyn an evenin wirk. An ye widna expeck tae be pyed extra, it's expecked 'at ye'll be dedicated enough tae jist dee't. Bit efter, ye wid en the day wi mebbe a sweem or a game o squash wi a colleague, or mebbe meet up wi yer fellow scientists fur a drink. Wirkin in a lab ye get tae ken folk pretty weel, an lab folk tend tae socialise thegither ootside o wirk. Sae at's it. The next day micht be completely different,or ye micht spen months at a time repetitiously tryin tae get the same thing tae wirk richt. At's the life o a scientist!

© University of Aberdeen   Return to Home page