Hi! My name is Willow and I am a second year PhD student in Maddy Parsons’ group. Our group investigates cell migration in adherent cells. Cells migrate in loads of different processes like wound healing, cancer metastasis and inflammatory responses and we want to understand the molecular mechanisms that make this happen. This was my Wednesday —

By Willow Hight-Warburton 

8.00 Alarm goes off, and I am really sleepy. I live on the Northern Line which is always busy, so I aim to get to the station either before or after the rush. Today is going to be after ….  Snooze

9.30 I arrive at work in New Hunt’s House. After quickly checking on my cells, I tackle my first job for the day: last night I grew some E. coli cultures to amplify a plasmid I am using. Now I need to spin down the bugs in a centrifuge before I can extract my plasmids.

The yellow liquid is the E. coli suspension that grew overnight. The bugs have kindly made lots of copies of DNA I gave them – now time to extract it!
Two essentials of any scientist can be spotted here – coffee and a timer that tells when it’s time to go back to your experiments!



This takes a while so in the meantime I make a coffee check my emails and chat to other people in the office whilst I plan what I am going to do today….




11.30 Now it is time for me to go into tissue culture. This is a sterile room that we use to look after our cells. Today I am starting to CRISPR my cells to knockout the proteins I am looking into, and then I set up the cells I am going to use in my live experiment.

Surface of a planet far far away or a close up of the cells I’m culturing, hard to tell!

13.00 Time for my live experiment! This has taken a couple of days to get everything prepared for it, so I am feeling nervous. I really hope it works! I am using a confocal microscope look at the internalisation of florescent drugs over an hour. This is pretty useful to see what happens to our protein when we inhibit it … Fingers crossed!

14.00 Today is a late lunch and I am starving!  The Guy’s campus has some gorgeous outdoor areas to eat lunch and enjoy the heatwave. So, Yonis and I head to the “beach” so I can devour my pasta.



14.30 Whilst my time-lapse experiment is running, I have some time to do data analysis of some experiment from earlier in the week. We use a software called ImageJ which helps us to quantify changes we see in the cells.


17.30 The end of the day, which means I can leave the dark microscope room and get out into the sun. A group of us head to grab a drink at the pub and then to try some vegan fast food. I am not so sure that I will be a fan of vegan cheese anytime soon, but I will try anything once!