Wow! What a year 2016 was. I can't quite believe how fast it went or how much changed.
This time last year I was working as a Science Technician at a secondary school in the depths of Wiltshire. One memorable day was when I was running a class practical session on genetic engineering. The students transform E.coli DNA, resulting in some colonies (hopefully) fluorescing under UV light. The session has a few periods of down-time enabling me to chat with the class. We got onto the topic of dream science careers. I will never forget when one student asked "Miss Tingey, is this your dream science career?"
I thought for a moment about my answer, with the eyes of twenty 16 year olds on me and responded "as much as I love to remind you to put your safety specs on to avoid potential blindness every 15 minutes" (she quickly put them back on) "and discussing genetically modifying humans to create an evil army of minions, I am really interested in the environment and would love to go back to research one day." The student mulled this over and then replied "Well you should do that then Miss Tingey. One more question - could I genetically modify a dolphin to make it really, really small? So, I create a sort of micro-dolphin, that I could keep as a pet in a pond?"
That night I thought a lot about the student's first question to me and decided that I did want to go back to research, only if the project and the time was right. Why not just try? I never would have thought by the end of 2016 I would be a glaciology postgraduate researcher at the University of Bristol!
In the summer I moved from the countryside to central Bristol and began research. It was slightly terrifying but it has turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. One of the biggest highlights of the year was leading an expedition to Iceland, sampling glacial flour and traveling to remote glaciers such as Lambatungnajokull. We were blessed with good weather and got all the samples we needed. It was a fantastic expedition, I would love to go back one day. Aside from fieldwork, conducting research every day here in the GroDome is great. Some people may find watching plants grow boring - I think it is awesome!
With hard work (and a little bit of luck), who knows what adventures I will be writing about in a years time. What I do know for sure is that I owe my friends and family a huge big thankyou, without your support I wouldn't be in such a fortunate position.
Finally to answer that student's second question about creating a GM micro-dolphin, if that's what you really want to do, I guess anything is possible if you try.