What is your role within MC²?
I am the BioImaging Specialist, aka light microscopist of the MC² team. This means I am the go-to person when someone wants to use our light microscopes, flow cytometers or plate reader.
How long have you worked here, and what did you do before this?
November 1st was my second anniversary at the University of Bath and the UK in general. Before that I held a similar post in a small microscopy facility at the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Athens, Greece.
What happens in your typical workday? And what would you say is the best bit of your job?
Usually the day starts with coffee and sometimes a visit at “Fresh” for supplies (this means chocolate 😉). Answering emails, arranging meetings and managing bookings are part of the daily routine, as well as starting up instruments when expecting users and running QC samples to verify flawless performance (with significant help from Diana and Silvia). Other times I might be training users, running samples for external clients or inexperienced users, troubleshooting or developing protocols. The best part is when people leave the facility with a smile of achievement on their faces, and especially when they acknowledge your help and support.
What is the worst part about your job?
Hmmm… I have to say not having chocolate 😉 Seriously though, the worst part is when you must deal with rude, insulting or unappreciative people. This can really ruin my day.
Tell us about a recent proud moment you had at work - Why was this special?
For a few months now, one of our flow cytometers was not operating properly and we could not pin-point where the trouble was. We had two visits from our support engineer and typically, the instrument was working fine when he was on-site. This was quite frustrating as there were critical experiments to be done, and the instrument working unreliably could prove disastrous. One morning I had an epiphany, and lo and behold I found that the culprit was one of the lasers that was working intermittently. Now the instrument is working again, the experiments were performed successfully, and I am a happy man.
Who inspired you as a child, and who inspires you now?
In all honesty, I am not sure. I always remember having a curiosity about things that I could not see with my eyes, either because they were too far away or too small. In my teens I was sure I would become either an astronomer or a biologist. And here I am today working with microscopes and peeking at the lives of tiny creatures, driven by the same curiosity I had when I first started my studies 30 years ago.
Do you have any hidden talents, and anything specific you still want to learn?
Both in my work and at home, what I love is to collect and manipulate photons in an effort to perceive and make sense of the world. No, I don’t have a fancy machine from Star Trek, just a DSLR to exercise my love for macro photography and astrophotography (the astronomer in me needed a way out in the end 😉). Between microscopy and photography, the scale is sometimes different but playing with shadows and light is a common theme and learning never ends.
If you could choose anything at all, what would your Friday evening meal consist of? Would you cook it yourself?
I have to say pasta, especially spaghetti bolognese, any time, any day! Even though I am an excellent cook myself and would always make the pasta, my wife makes a better bolognese sauce, so usually we split kitchen duties.