...talk to your Scientist Next Door

We are a small group of scientists aiming to bring together communities during the lockdown and homeschooling. We are here to share with children our passion for science, hoping more of you will find it as exciting!

The Idea


Scientist Next Door was founded in March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. At that point, already over 160+ countries, and so nearly 90% of the world’s student population has been affected. Lockdowns and homeschooling removed the opportunity for children to learn through activities and to engage with peers, overall, inevitably affecting their education.  

While this situation puts the pressure of homeschooling onto parents, it also allows us to create a new community! Our Scientist Next Door project is there to provide us with a platform to share our passion for science and help bring up the next generation of fantastic scientists!

We want to hold group video calls connecting families and scientists to discuss what inspires us, think about the science that impacts our daily lives, and share ideas and resources.

The project was started by Valentina Erastova from the University of Edinburgh, Basile Curchod and Matteo Degiacomi from Durham University. We are now supported by more than 50 scientists from around the world. If you are a scientist and would like to join us - get in touch!

If you are a parent - let us know a bit about your families and your scientific interests by filling in this form.

For now, stay home, stay safe, look after yourselves and loved ones, and join the discussions and video calls!

The Idea The Idea The Idea

Reviews


That was great, thank you. He loves learning new stuff. He is excitedly telling his Dad what he’s just learned from you all. That was great to engage him, he’s been struggling to get excited over anything schoolwork wise!"

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us [...] I also felt that it will be a very good introduction to subjects which he has never encountered."

This is amazing! My 9 year old son had a call with 4 scientists this afternoon, he was absolutely captivated. They did a great job of explaining stuff and making him feel at ease. He is finding lockdown homeschooling a challenge, but this was a great teaching tool for him. He's excited for next week already."

Highly recommend. Fantastic sessions which fully engaged my 8 yr old, fun experiments and great resources. A unique opportunity to enthuse children about STEM subjects."

My son, aged 10, and I have been involved in your project for over 2 months. In that time we have met a range of scientists who have been knowledgeable, friendly, approachable and able to relate complex information in s child friendly manner. Weronika has been our organiser, pleasant and dedicated go to scientist who has worked tirelessly to help and inspire myself and my son. During lockdown we have been completing lots of different experiments inside our house and in the garden. We have gained lots of knowledge on DNA and renewable energy sources. Finn has met so many positive male and female role models and I have gained lots of ideas and increased my knowledge in certain scientific fields which will be invaluable in my career as a primary school teacher. My son's favourite thing about the project has been meeting new people. I am so impressed with Weronika and the other scientists who have stretched out minds and broadened my son's horizons. Participating in this project was the best thing we did in lockdown and would recommend it wholeheartedly to any families."

Get in touch!


Hi Parents! 
If you would like to connect with your Scientist Next Door,
please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Scientists!
If you would like to join the Scientist Next Door project, get in touch with us
*
*
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What is your availability?
If you would like to have face to face calls please fill in the form directly below after submitting this one. 

We'll be in touch very soon. Thank you!

Call with Your Family


One to one chats with real scientists

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Discussions


The Scientists


Valentina

co-founder

My research is about interactions in soils. I use modelling to get molecular-level view onto surfaces of minerals and solids. The applications range from industrial, to environmental, such as decontamination of water and even to the search for life on other planets.

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Basile

co-founder

I am a theoretical chemist, interested in understanding how light interacts with molecules. This topic is very important for many daily applications and also for understanding what happens in the atmosphere when molecules absorb sunlight.

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Matteo

co-founder

I am a biophysicist, and I use computers to study the molecular mechanisms of life. Understanding how our body works at such a small scale is key to inform the design of new therapies to fight diseases.

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Anna-Maria

outreach guru

My research looks at how radiation affects our cells. Now, at Edinburgh, I work with scientists and communities to share passion for science

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Sofia

coordinator

My background is in applied maths and physics. Now, as a computational chemistry PhD candidate, I am interested in the design of new medications, using purely computer-based methodologies. I also love to talk about science with people from all backgrounds!

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Lucas

coordinator

My research uses computers to understand how the molecules in your body interact with each other. This is important, both to understand what keeps you in tip-top shape and so we can help design drugs to combat diseases.

Venkat

Durham

I am interested in how proteins (important molecules in our bodies) interact with drugs, salts and other biomolecules. My background is in pharmaceutical sciences, and now I use artificial intelligence and computer simulations to understand these interactions to help develop better treatments.

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Alessia

Edinburgh

I study how bacteria repair their DNA after it has been broken by antibiotics. I use fluorescence (the one that makes it glow) microscopy to look at how the repair is happening inside bacteria.

Pippa

Oxford

I am a second year PhD student in the department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford 🌱 I am working on a synthetic biology project to engineer variants of enzymes that are involved in photosynthesis. Photosynthesis enables plants to capture energy from the sun and turn it into sugars that power the plant, and I am aiming to increase flux through this process. As well as just being interesting for its own sake, hopefully this will have applications in crop development.

Weronika

Edinburgh

I am a synthetic chemist working towards a more efficient and sustainable plastic production. When in the lab, I spend most of my time in a glove box where I handle air- and moisture-sensitive chemicals, some of which catch fire when exposed to air or water!

Toni

Edinburgh

I develop computer-based methods to model behaviour of essential molecules in our bodies - proteins. Their malfunction is responsible for many diseases and body responses to them, and I am particularly interested in antimicrobial resistance.

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Abigail

North Carolina

I am an undergraduate in chemical engineering at North Carolina State University. My research focuses on developing microfluidic devices for modelling early placental development and microscope image analysis techniques.

Alexandra

Nottingham

I hold a BSc in Agriculture (crop production) and an MRes in Food Sciences & Engineering (food material processing). I am currently doing a PhD in Food Sciences, studying how the structural and functional properties of protein-rich material (grains) occur from processing. At this stage, I am using microscopy to observe the matrix of flours.

Amke

Gothenburg

My research is in physical chemistry and we want to understand the fundamentals of chemical reactions. Using X-rays (so similar radiation to that used to check if your bone is broken) we are trying to 'film' how atoms move during a reaction on very short timescales.

Andrew

Durham

I’m a biophysicist studying proteins at Durham. I’m interested in why some of them clump together whereas others don’t - this could help us understand more about certain diseases. I do all of my experiments on a supercomputer which allows me to look at a lot of systems in a short space of time.

Annis

Edinburgh

We all rely on grasses to live. Most of our staple foods are grasses (like wheat and maize) or are fed by grasses (like cows). I study how grasses crops, like barley and maize (sweetcorn) grow. By understanding how plants grow we can help produce new crop varieties that produce more of what we need under different environmental conditions.

Anubrita

New Zealand

I am interested in how proteins (important biomolecules for life) interact with each other to maintain proper cellular functions. It is important to study such protein-protein interactions as they will help us understand how mutations (abnormality) in proteins can lead to the development of various diseases.

Bapi

Belgium

I'm a postdoc at KU Leuven, Belgium at the Department of Chemistry. Where I'm working on metal halide perovskites for X-ray detection and LEDs

Beatriz

Oxford

I am a PhD student from Brazil in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford. My research focuses on exploring potential treatment options to Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor that do not involve medication or surgery. I study how and if we can reduce tremor by stimulating the nervous system noninvasively, from the periphery.

Cath

Edinburgh

I am a molecular biologist trying to understand how the cells in our body work! I am especially interested in how our cells use tiny molecules called RNA to communicate with the mitochondria, which are the bits of the cell that make energy. Without these messages we can’t power our bodies properly, so understanding this process will help to keep us healthy!

Camilla

Milan

I am a post doc researcher at IFOM, a cancer research institute in Milan, and I am interested in understanding the biological mechanisms involved in bone marrow-derived stem cells differentiaition.

Chiara

Milan

I am a biologist, I have obtained my Master degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Roma Tre (Rome, Italy), then I moved to Edinburgh University for my PhD in Biochemistry and Structural Biology. I am currently applying structural biology techniques to cancer targets.

Chris

Durham

I am a computer scientist who does research to make computers act more cleverly. This is called "Artificial Intelligence" where we try to write code that acts like a brain to make computers do stuff like painting, writing stories, or composing music. My picture was painted for me by a computer to be in style of Vincent van Gogh. Maybe one day robots will do all the science for us!

Christos

Nottingham

I hold a master’s in Food Science and Food Engineering. Currently I’m doing a PhD on surfactant science and rheology that is hidden behind liquid food foams and especially coffee foam. I am interested in the phenomena that occur in a food system and the use of these phenomena in order to develop innovative solutions in food industry.

Claire

Lancaster

I am amazed by how chemistry can help us to understand the biological world around us. My current PhD research uses infrared spectroscopy (a method which uses light to make molecules shake) and machine learning (clever maths) to investigate the invasive plant species Japanese knotweed.

Daniel

Edinburgh

My research focuses on synthetic biology. I try to reprogramme the genetic blueprint of yeast and bacteria in order to turn them into microscopic factories that produce valuable chemicals and pharmaceuticals. By using microorganisms, we can reduce the amount of energy and resources, reduce our carbon footprint, and help save the planet!

Diana

Durham

I am a material scientist and an enthusiastic electron microscopist. I often use electron microscopes (SEMs and TEMs) to see the teeny-tiny nanoparticles comprising the Earth aimed at understanding how things work and potentially improving them.

Diana

Russia

I have a PhD in geophysics. I study climate change, climate of the past, greenhouse gases and glaciers. Now I am in Russia working as a researcher for the Russian academy of sciences.

Didi

Oxford

I am a postdoc at Oxford University. I am studying protein structures related to diabetes or cancer. By using structure information we can design drugs accordingly.

Dinesh

India

Have you noticed butterflies and moths feeding from flowers or maybe you have been annoyed by flies that always evade your swats? The insect brains powering these actions are minuscule (as big as the head of a pin in the case of a fly), and yet they perform such exquisite behaviors! I try to understand how they do this by studying both the behaviors and brains.

Freya

Shefield

I work in the department of chemistry and my PhD is looking at water purification applications. I am making new two-dimensional materials (nanosheets) and using them in polymer membranes to give better filtration devices. Ideally we will be able to remove salts from water, making sea water drinkable.

Georgia

Bristol

I am a chemist that uses really quick LASERS to track molecules in a reaction. The light lets me see how the molecules ‘jump’, vibrate, react, and respond to light as well as the other molecules around them and hopefully from this we can work out how to make the reactions more efficient or study how they change in the presence of different molecules.

Hannah

Italy

I am using computer models and simulations to study what is going on inside the ion channels of our nerve cells. They are the molecules which enable our nervous system to communicate by sending messages of electrical pulses.

Job

Edinburgh

I am an experimental physicist studying squidgy things i.e. soft matter physics and materials. You have probably encountered many soft materials today already: milk, yoghurt, toothpaste, slime and soap are but a few examples! I am involved in collaborations on interfaces in energy materials and on equality, diversity and inclusion in STEM.

Kitty

Edinburgh

I work in cancer research to try and identify what genetic mutations increase the risk of somebody developing cancer and why, with a particular on colorectal cancer. To do this I sequence DNA from cancer patients and also analyse lots of data that's already been collected. Understanding what increases cancer risk in certain people will allow us to develop therapies that are best suited to them

Jesus

Berlin

I’m a group leader at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin and my researches revolves around fundamental processes in atoms, molecules and photons. We study data-driven science, cold and ultracold chemistry as well as physics beyond the standard model with atoms and molecules.

Joe

Durham

I come from a chemistry background, but am passionate about all science, in particular the history of it. I currently study chemistry at Durham.

Johanna

Edinburgh

I am doing my PhD in laboratory astrochemistry at Edinburgh. I came to Scotland in 2018 for my master thesis and got the opportunity to stay here. I just entered the second year of my PhD. In my free time I like to read fiction and philosophy, go to the cinema or discover Scotland a bit.

Jon

Liverpool

I am a materials chemistry PhD student from the University of Liverpool and I am interested in green ways of generating electricity so that less pollution is released into the atmosphere.

Prof. Jonathan Tennyson

London

I am a quantum mechanic. I solve the equations of quantum mechanics to try and address important scientific and technological problems such as How much light does one molecule of carbon dioxide absorb? What are the signatures of molecules in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets)? I run a major project on this called ExoMol (google it). What are the physical processes that occur in the plasmas used for such processes as making silicon chips?

Konstantinos

Athens

I hold a Master's degree in process engineering. I'm interested in finding ways to create environmental friendly and low cost processes for the production and use of energy sources and various industrial products.

Lynne

Edinburgh

I am a biochemist. I study proteins. I seek to understand what they do in every cell in our body, and also to understand what goes wrong with them in disease. I also try to design useful new proteins. Outside the lab I like to knit, read and walk in the countryside.

Lea

Durham

I am a theoretical chemist looking into what happens to molecules after they were exposed to light. In my PhD, I am trying to develop new methods for computer simulations, that will allow a better description of these processes.

Louise

Edinburgh

I’m interested in the way that proteins move around the cell to help them communicate and build a body! I study lots of different diseases and developmental problems that are caused when this communication goes wrong.

Lewis

Durham

I originally studied astronomy (space) but realised that I liked hands-on work, so I moved into building devices to measure oxygen in blood. I also make machines that measure the twisted light that comes from twisted molecules.

Libby

Oxford

I study the body’s immune system in people who have long term problems with their gut. I want to know how the molecules that are made by cells change when the gut becomes inflamed and how we can use this knowledge to treat illness.

Lizzie

Edinburgh

My research specialises in understanding how viruses interact with the body, which will help us to design new antiviral treatments! I love getting involved in making science more accessible to everyone- no matter your age!

Manuela

Edinburgh

I am a neuroscientist, always interested in understanding how tiny mutations in the DNA can cause devastating diseases. In particular, and for many years I have been using fruit flies to study human neurodegenerations and to identify effective therapies for them.

Maru

Spain

I use computer models to explain how molecules behave under the sun! By this I can help make even better solar cells

Matt

Durham

I am organic chemist, that guy in (what used to be white) lab coat boiling (not blowing!) things up

Matt

Edinburgh

I use powerful microscopes to understand how proteins, the miniature machines in our body, can lose their structure and clump together. This involves shining laser light on molecules that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a single hair!

Matt

Durham

I focus on making lots of different gels to see how these can be used to change how crystals grow and how their structures change when grown in gels. Pharmaceutical drugs can form crystals with very different properties and it's important to understand how gels can affect these. I'm also interested in changing gel properties and structure and recently tried to make gels that respond to light!

Matthew

Potsdam

I am a postdoctoral researcher currently at the University of Potsdam, Germany, whose studies concentrate on trying to better understand how individual atoms in a molecule move during a chemical reaction, though am personally interested in all aspects of science.

Prof. Martin McCoustra

Edinburgh

I'm a chemist by training and a physicist by choice. My main interests are in the chemical and physical processes that control the evolution of the Universe, the chemical and physical processes that occur at the surfaces of solids and many aspects of the chemistry and physics of our atmosphere including global warming. I won a Scottish "Meet the Scientist" event online in 2019.

Meilani

Nottingham

As a theoretical chemist, I use computer to model and understand the interactions between light and matters (atoms and molecules) in strong magnetic fields, like the ones found on stars like White Dwarfs, neutron stars, and pulsars.

Munira

UK

I am a Petroleum Geoscientist - I use different kinds of data to study where oil and gas might be found. Oil and gas have a wide variety of uses, including providing electricity for our homes and schools. Crude oil is converted at oil refineries into fuels such as diesel, gasoline and to power cars, firetrucks and aeroplanes.

Nick

Texas

I'm in the third year of my Ph.D. program. I study physical chemistry, specifically the way that gases react with light and one another. I use lasers, high-voltage electronics, and powerful vacuum technology in order to take pictures of molecules after we break them apart.

Nisreen

UK

I have a PhD degree in Hard Tissue and Regenerative Biology. My research focuses on creating a new bone graft/ biomaterial to act as a 3D scaffold to repair or restore damaged alveolar and craniofacial bone tissues. I am interested in clinical and pre-clinical teaching and research counted in Maxillofacial & Craniofacial sciences, Biomaterial science and Tissue engineering

Noelia

Perugia

I have a PhD in theoretical Chemistry. I work at the University of Perugia as a researcher and teacher. My research focuses on the study of the dynamics of elementary chemical processes in astrochemistry and in the production/ transfer of energy.

Sam

Edinburgh

I am a PhD student at Edinburgh University studying plant biology, which is super important to ensure we have healthy crop plants to feed the planet with. In my lab we study plant diseases - yes, plants can get sick with viruses and bacterial pathogens just like humans! We also investigate how plants tell the time - also like us humans, plants go to “sleep” and know what time of day it is! I am really interested in understanding how this plant clock regulates defence to disease-causing pathogens.

Rob

Durham

I am a physical chemist, working at the interface of organic chemistry and biophysics, with expertise in lanthanide based sensors and cellular probes. In recent years, I have focused my research interests on innovation in the development of bespoke optical instrumentation, notably for high resolution, affordable microscopy and in portable optical spectroscopy for emission and circular polarised luminescence. In addition, I strive to capitalise on my new research interest in targeted light activated molecular nanomachines. My ethos of public engagement has always been to ‘Educate and Entertain’. It is centred on providing education to everyone regardless of geographic location, demographic and sociological status not only to raise awareness of our research outcomes but also to inspire the next generation of scientists.

Ritu

Edinburgh

I come from materials chemistry background. I am interested in molecular studies of clay minerals and how these can be used to clean up polution, for example pharmaceuticals from water.

Ryan

Durham

I am a Computer Science Undergraduate at Durham University entering my final year in October. My main interests are in Machine Learning, but I am also interested in most areas in computer science.

Sara

Durham

I'm a logician working at Durham University and a mother of an 8 year old. I have two cats and I like to write science fiction and fantasy stories.

Saravanan

India

I work on understanding how molecular processes happen inside a solvent using mathematical models. Such processes form a fundamental description for photosynthetic reactions, working of your eye, and several DNA processes in the body.

Shansi

China

I am interested in the resources our planet gives us - how can we get the most out of what we are given?

Steven

Belgium

I'm a biomedical researcher based at KU Leuven, Belgium. I specifically research molecular pathways behind heart failure. I am very enthusiastic about scientific outreach, already engaging in the skype a scientist initiative and the pint of science festival.

Yousef

Shefield

my research is about how the quality of aviation fuel can be improved for commercial aircrafts To be more environmentally sustainable. Beside studying, I love having long walks into the nature and exploring the natural wonders of the world

Our Research


Drilling through Cell Membranes

About the research of Dr Rob Pal in Durham University

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Modelling Molecules: what is needed?

Find out about Sofia's research on her way to become a Doctor!

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X-rays, punch cards and iron wires

A brief history of the study of nature at the atomic level

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Injectable 3D Scaffold and Bone Tissue Engineering

Learn more about Nisreen's research work on bio-materials and tissue engineering.

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In the News