Starting Out

“Everybody has to start somewhere. You have your whole future ahead of you. Perfection doesn’t happen right away.”- Haruki Murakami

This is going to be a blog about science. Not huge earth-shattering revelations, but the everyday ways that science enriches and dictates our lives. I am a 22 year old, soon-to-be postgraduate living in Glasgow having just finished my BSc in Neuroscience and am at that point in my life where I have to make some decisions. My parents are scientists, my sister is a scientist and, I guess, I’m now a scientist too, albeit at a very basic level.

Science has always been a large part of my life- my family spend a lot of our time outdoors: foraging for ecological curios (owl pellets are a favourite), pond dipping for samples to mount on a slide and saving frog spawn from rapidly receding shallow puddles (silly frogs). At A-level I chose to study politics, English literature and psychology which I eventually went on to study at the University of Glasgow four years ago where I quickly realised that it wasn’t really for me. After a lot of administrative to and fro I ended up studying a BSc Neuroscience course and there I stayed. My disillusionment with psychology wasn’t caused by a disinterest in human behaviour but rather a sense that an understanding of how we work could be gained from looking at the biological mechanisms within our brain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an all-out reductionist but I realised that I wanted to return to my biology roots with a focus on us, our nervous system and the forces that act upon us at an intrinsic level.

I loved studying neuroscience but it was tough without the basis of A-level sciences to tide me through the things other students took for granted. It took me three years to realise that 5-HT and serotonin are the same thing, and yes, I would like to point out that the fact that a Wikipedia search would have ended this confusion is not lost on me.

My belated revelation

Now my degree is over I find myself wondering what to do next. My parents did PhDs, so should I do a PhD? What about a Masters? I looked for a long time at all these possibilities and even got accepted onto a few Masters courses but I’ve very recently come to the conclusion that my interest in science, at least for now, sits at a much more general level. I don’t really want to spend my life looking at one tiny molecule or part of a neural system or network in a lab somewhere. I love science. But does science love me?

I don’t want to turn my back on it, and I don’t want to be left behind so while I try to establish what it is I really want to do I’m going to start this blog as a way to keep engaging with all aspects of science. I will do this with a mind to pass on the message that I have been fascinated with from the start- that science is all around us. It is always relevant and it is always valuable but most importantly of all, it is not meant only for people in lab coats but for everyone who ever wondered why your ears ring after a concert, or why it’s cooler under trees, or how tadpoles become frogs and why birds sing first thing in the morning. This blog will bring science to everybody, in every form, and in writing it I am hoping to find my own eureka moment.

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