...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

COVID-19 lockdowns are in force in 160+ countries around the globe (March 2020), and so nearly 90% of the world’s students are affected. This impacts directly on our children’s education, removing the possibility to learn through activities and immersion.

While this situation puts the pressure of homeschooling onto parents, it also gives us a unique opportunity to create a new community! Our Scientist Next Door project is there to give us 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.

This was started by a small group of scientists from the Universities of Durham and Edinburgh. We have a background in various STEM fields. If you are a scientist and would like to join us, get in touch with Valentina!

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 vote for the next topics and dates for upcoming video calls!

The Idea

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

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


Talks on a voted topic hosted by an expert



The Scientists


who made it

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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who helped make it

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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who makes this tick

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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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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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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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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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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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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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!



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.



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.



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!



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.

Dinesh Natesan


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.



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.



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.



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



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.



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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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.



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



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



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!



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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



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!

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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