Ioana, second year DPhil student, represented 'Brains and Neuroscience' at the Medical Research Zone of this year's edition of 'I'm a scientist, Get me out of here!' (https://imascientist.org.uk).
The Medical Research Zone (https://mrc2020.imascientist.org.uk/) is an online activity where school students could connect with MRC-funded scientists over online live chats between the 2nd and the 27th of March. There were 30 scientists selected to take part in this activity and 3 to 6 of them would be online for each chat. The chats took place multiple times a day during school hours and lasted for 30 minutes. During this time, students could ask the scientists anything they want! Students then vote for their favourite scientists and the scientist with the most votes at the end of each week is the Weekly Winner. The scientist with the most votes at the end of the 4 weeks wins a prize of £500 to organise a public engagement event of their choice.
Ioana found it very rewarding to get to talk to school students and answer their questions: "The medical Research Zone was such a stimulating experience! I was very happy to see how excited students were to talk to us researchers and how many questions they had. They asked about our inspiration to become scientists and what the best and worst parts of the job were. They also asked questions about what we were working on and how our research would affect therapies for patients. They seemed to think it was pretty cool that I am using a huge doughnut-shaped machine to take pictures of people's brains 😄 Most of the questions were somehow related to the field we worked on, but, every now and then, there were some that had nothing to do with it. Besides brain imaging, I also had to explain what a black hole is, how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of eating disorders or how we use the energy we get from the sun. I really liked to see what topics the students were most interested in and I learnt so much myself in the process.".