Head of Electron Microscopy The Francis Crick Institute
"Team science, it's changing the way we do science. It's changing the speed at which we work, and it's changing the scientific questions that we can answer."
I went from my PhD to a postdoc which included light microscopy in electron microscopy. I was there for five years, and the longer I was there, the more I was asked by other people to collaborate because electron microscopy is quite specialist and there aren't that many people who do it. So I ended up moving from working on my own project through to collaborating with lots of other people and then went into facility work. I started running facilities first of all on my own and then building up a team over the years.
How much of working towards a publication features in your work?
As far as publication within the scientific groups is concerned, they will always have a publication in mind. [Publication is] a point that they want to get to with their research. So we're as focused on that as they are, and it will be answering a particular question. So the experiments are designed around answering the question and all the way through we'll be testing that with the research group and eventually delivering the figures in the text for the paper as well.
In terms of the strategy of choosing the microscopes it's defined by the scientific questions, and we're extremely lucky to have a broad range of technology which means that we can pick and choose microscopes to answer the questions. We don't have any limitations there. So we go all the way through from transmission electron microscopes to scanning electron microscopes. We tie them together with light microscopes, and we can also build our own where we need to we have physicists in the group.
We are lucky enough to have two physicists who can build new types of microscopes, and one of them also designs software and is building citizen science projects. So we're now working with the general public who are helping us with our science as well. So that's massive Team Science, and it's changing the way we do science. It's changing the speed at which we work, and it's changing the scientific questions that we can answer.
We're extremely fortunate at the Crick. We're core funded which means that we can do some exciting developmental work. But we have to be realistic as well and work within the boundaries of funding. To have enough space to work at the cutting edge is great.
Rate in importance - Funding / Publication / Technology
I would say publication first only because to me that's our most obvious indicator of the science that we're impacting on. So the science is first. The technology comes a very close second because without the right technology you can't answer the scientific question. And in an ideal world, the finance isn't a consideration.