My favourite part of my job is developing questions about my particular area of science research, and figuring out how I might be able to answer these. This involves a lot of reading on what work has been done in my area (and usually other not so related areas), looking at other experimental data I have, thinking and going back and forth with different solutions. It’s particularly great because at this point I am just proposing what I will do and I haven’t done any experiments in the lab so nothing has gone wrong experiment-wise 🙂 I guess the next best part of my job is getting to do the experiments and seeing that my initial proposed ideas were a good idea!
I really enjoy the travel, autonomy, and creativity. Starting your own research lab is a bit like running your own start-company; you have to secure funding, find staff, train and teach, mentor, do the actual science (!), and communicate your findings, all of which can be challenging and requires you to wear many different hats. BUT the best bit is you can build this all around your (often very specific) interest, and you get to be involved with all elements of the scientific process from thinking up hypotheses, deigning the experiments, collecting and analysing the data and communicating the results. You also get to travel (conferences, etc) quite a lot. As a mother of two small children it is also helpful that I can squish my work around to fit the needs of my family.