We spoke with Dr. O’Toole about his background and his thoughts for this podcast series.
My next postdoc post was then to oversee and maximise the potential of a new Bio-Rad Radiance 2000 confocal microscope, which had just launched. This was almost a postdoctoral position without remit and to be able to explore and maximise the technology in the Department! This is when I realised that I loved the technology itself, more than the various biological questions. This post enabled me to collaborate with multiple groups, and selfishly, I was very keen exploit the system for FRAP experiments and team up with one of the cancer labs (Norton) at Essex.
Realising that the technology was my primary driver, I then looked at the next step posts. This nearly resulted in myself and young family heading to Baylor College of Medicine, but the York post was re-advertised with more explicit research opportunities. I grabbed this opportunity and have not looked back since. York has been a great, supportive environment to develop my own career.
How did you come up with the idea for “The Microscopists” podcasts?
Over coffee with Scott Fraser and then another with Ernst Stelzer!
I like to present, but get oddly nervous when introducing plenary/keynote speakers, and at ELMI 2018 I had to introduce a fair few people.
Before ELMI, I had to introduce Lucy Collinson at mmc2017. I know Lucy really well and decided to make it a little different and introduce her using more personal information that you could not read in the programme biography. Something fun that gives the audience a true feel for how dynamic the speaker really is. I found this far easier to deliver personally and the audience were really engaged with a few laughs which also kick started the talk off on a high and a more relaxed atmosphere, which I thought was also good for the speaker as well.
As such, I decided to try the same at ELMI and sat down for coffee with those that I had to introduce and glean some fun information off each. They were all really obliging and revealed some fun facts that was great to kick them off with. At the same time, it also revealed how these megastars were not all work, work, work, but had fun and varied outside interests that I thought would be great for younger scientists to hear about and appreciate. It shows that you should follow your strengths and balance work with at least some fun and passion outside of work.
The podcast idea is not however just about inspiring younger scientists, but to also allow us to capture the true nature and character of the great scientists of our time. I wish we could go back in time and meet and learn about some of the great pioneers, but this is simply not possible. Hopefully this series will last through time and people can see what today’s pioneers are really like.
What should one expect when watching these podcasts?
Fun, personal and engaging content and very little about their actual science! This really is about them. How they started out, what shaped their careers, what they find difficult and fun. What they do outside of work and how they balance their work and home lives. The content can be very diverse and jumps about a little to engage the audience at different levels. You do not have to be a microscopist to enjoy the content. There are so many useful tips and tricks given throughout the talks, that second the third views/listens back, I still pick up more useful information (although I only skip through them as I cannot stand watching or listening to myself!).