CHRISTMAS LECTURES Assistant (BBSRC Professional Internship for PhD Students)
Michelle was born and raised on the coast of Norfolk, and was keenly interested in science throughout school and A-levels. Originally wanting to become a vet, but coming to her senses during her gap year of vet-related work experience, she nevertheless ended up at the Royal Veterinary College to study Bioveterinary Science (a 3-year biology degree). Here she discovered her passion for science communication while presenting research projects, enjoying the challenge of making a complex scientific concept accessible to everyone. Now, she is halfway through a PhD in spider locomotion, where her day generally consists of playing with spiders, convincing people that spiders aren’t evil, and removing spiders from her colleagues’ offices.
I don’t really know where my love of science came from, it was just always there. I was a very inquisitive child, and probably drove my parents mad with all my “Why?” questions! I just loved learning things – my favourite TV programme when I was little was Sesame Street because it taught me loads of stuff, and I frequently woke my dad up in the early hours of the morning so we could watch it. My love of spiders definitely came from my mum – we named all the spiders that wandered into our house ‘George’, and I was never scared of them because of that. More recently, I have been hugely inspired by the ‘real-world’ impacts of scientific research, particularly robots and prosthetics that have been inspired by animal or human movement – I love that we’re learning to reverse engineer biology to create these incredible technologies!
I really like the cornflour on a speaker demonstration of non-Newtonian fluids, because it fascinates both children and adults alike. I could watch those cornflour monsters for days!
In my first week, the lovely people from Heritage & Collections brought me a rare copy of Martyn’s Spiders to look at – a beautifully illustrated and descriptive book of British spiders from 1793. That was pretty special! I also think the range of science communication the Ri does is amazing – all the way from Family Fun Days to the new Ri Lates for adults, as well as more traditional talks and lectures, it really does offer something for everyone to enjoy.