Hi everyone,

It’s finally time for the beautiful Edinburgh meadows after work again – the sun has finally decided to visit Scotland in the last few days, and everyone’s mood has been exponentially better. The days are getting very long in terms of daylight hours, and I woke up at 5am this morning – it was way too bright outside that I thought it was later than it actually was, and I thought I should have already been in the lab!

The last month or so has been fairly good and productive. I feel that I am making decent progress with my project. My project is designed so I can move very fast once things work, and so far I haven’t hit too many roadblocks. I have had a few situations where I had to do some technical optimisation steps, but nothing compared to other projects I have been working on in the past. I am very happy it is going so smoothly for once, and hope it stays that way!
My first year (or rather, 8 month) report is coming up by the end of June. At the moment I’m trying to tailor my current data in a nice and coherent story for my first year report – so far, the data makes sense. I have set a some time aside to read up on the relevant literature in a lot of detail. Injury repair in the brain is fascinating! You’re always told that the human brain can’t repair, and is hard-wired (that paradigm changed in the recent years, but it still very wide-spread amongst the public audience), but in fact the brain is very plastic and new nerve cells can be born due to a multitude of factors – depression and age decrease neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons, versus environmental enrichment can enhance it. Also after injury, many new neurons can be born in certain parts of the human / mammalian brain, but sadly most of them don’t survive well enough to replace the lost neurons. Hopefully, research will catch up with this topic (maybe I will be even able to contribute to the field at some point, who knows?).

My lab went to the Little France Postdoc Society pub quiz recently, and we came third overall (out of probably 13-14 teams) – I am very proud of us although I have to admit, my own “knowledge” probably did not really contribute to our high ranking. (It is so frustrating to know all the classical pieces of music but know remember the names! At least I got the obligatory Austrian music question right and knew “the Blue Donau Waltz” by Johann Strauss II).

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Before we went on to form the fantastic pub quiz group “Oh Danio Boy”, me and two students from our “neighbour lab” were waiting in the beer garden at pleasance. Sadly, beer gardens in Scotland mainly involve winter jackets.

Some other happy news: I passed my practical driving exam at the end of April. I was quite happy as it was a first time pass (I did not expect that at all). My friends were starting to tease me with “Oh, you’re doing a PhD but still can’t drive?” – now I can 🙂 It will be weird driving on the other side of the road in almost every other country of the world, but hopefully I will manage to adjust.

I hope you don’t think I’m only travelling… but, I did travel again. (To be fair, travelling is probably the most exciting part of my spare time). I visited Dublin (for 3h), Berlin (for 2.5 days) and my home country Tyrol the end of April. I was just planning to go to Berlin (flights via Dublin were cheaper than direct ones, I don’t really understand flight companies…) for a few days with a friend of mine from home, but her passport and wallet were stolen so she couldn’t come while I was already on my way there.

I have travelled on my own in the past but Berlin felt like a too big city for me on my own. I have to say now that I’ve seen Berlin myself, I’m not really that big a fan of Berlin as everyone else seems to be. I like smaller cities better than big ones, although they certainly have their charm. Edinburgh is thankfully the perfect size for me, as the city centre is quite small but there is still so much fun stuff to do. Plus, Edinburgh has pretty parks. 🙂

After this semi-botched holiday, I decided to spontaneously go home for a few days instead of wander around in Berlin on my own.. I used the time to see my family and friends, relax a bit from all the PhD stress (not having to cook for yourself all the time is just so much better, thanks Grandma!), and also visited my old lab back in Innsbruck. I was even offered the chance to hold a seminar about my current work the next time I come to visit! I am definitely take up that offer 🙂

 

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This was the first picture I took why my plane landed back home! A very colourful sunset.

Maybe I’ve been nagging too much about this, but I’ll give a final mention to Pint of Science here, as the events are taking part next Monday-Wednesday (23rd-25th of May). It is a science event aimed at the general public me and a team of wonderful other volunteers have been organising over the past few months, and is taking part in pubs all over the city. It’s dementia awareness week this week (#DAW2016), so one of our events tackling the ageing brain will be particularly topical. Or do you want to know how prosthetics could look like in the future? And what are the similarities between your nervous system and pasta? We have planned fun games for the breaks and there will be prizes to be won! There is also lots of interesting stuff for audiences interested in physics, biography, geography and medicine, so do check out the events and make sure to buy your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment 🙂

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With that, I leave you until my next report!

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