• Question: what do you find most interesting about the thing that you study?!!

    Asked by clogerina01 to Cesar, Emily, Jamie, Kate, Philippa on 19 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Kate Clancy

      Kate Clancy answered on 15 Jun 2011:

      There are a few things that come to mind. First, I love that I study humans, because that means my subjects can talk back! I can interact with them, and often people who participate in my studies learn a lot about themselves, even as they are giving their time (and bodily fluids!) to science. I feel like I make a difference both in my field and with the people around me as a result.

      The other thing that is so interesting is that, while I can make some predictions about what a person’s physiology will be like if I know something about their environment, there is still so much I don’t know, and so much variation that we still don’t understand! I really enjoy the fact that I get evidence every day that people can be really, really different, and yet still normal and healthy.

    • Photo: Jamie Gallagher

      Jamie Gallagher answered on 19 Jun 2011:

      hi hi,

      Well I try and understand how things grow. Not humans and animals but the materials that are around us every day. Once I know who crystals grow I can try and control it. I take things that are very natural and try and make them work for me. It is very interesting, I feel like a bit like a detective- I gather as many clues as I can then I decide how something has grown to be the way it is.

    • Photo: Philippa Demonte

      Philippa Demonte answered on 19 Jun 2011:

      @clogerina01 I learnt soooo many different things about Earth science during my 3 year geophysics degree, but volcanoes are what interest me most. Every volcano is unique, so that makes trying to study them such a challenge! The thing is that there is no one way to study a volcano – you have to approach it from several different sciences and then start putting all the clues together. Even then, we still might not be right about how it works. For example, Merapi volcano in Indonesia had always erupted in a certain way, but then last year surprised the scientists monitoring it by erupting on a different side!

      For me though it’s not just the science that interests me, but how people react to that science, especially in monitoring natural hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes. A lecturer gave me this example. A village on the coast of Malaysia might one day be hit by a tsunami. The scientists told the local authorities who installed an early warning alarm system and built a park on top of a hill. If a tsunami were to about to hit the village, the alarm would be sounded and the villagers could walk up the hill to safety.

      Every Sunday the villagers walked from their homes up the hill to have family picnics so that everyone would know the escape route by heart without having to think about it in an emergency situation.

      One day the alarm sounded, and do you know what people did? They panicked, forgot that it was safest to walk up the hill, and got into their cars causing gridlock on the roads! That human reaction fascinates me as much as the science behind tsunamis.