Time for the second instalment of Meet the YCG! This week is Sam Horrell, Chair of the YCG, resident of Hamburg, and all round great guy. Take it away Sam:
Post Doc at the University of Hamburg in the Pearson group and Chair of the YCG
What do you currently research?
I am currently working as part of a team to design, build and eventually test a new end station at PETRA III to enable time-resolved serial crystallography experiments on fixed targets. P14.EH2 (we’re working on a better name) will be a dedicated Time-resolved X-ray Crystallography beamline using Hadamard Time-resolved X-ray Cryatsllography (HATRX) to produce high quality pump-probe serial diffraction data for the study of structural dynamics in biomolecules. Also, there will be lasers. I’ll be talking about this at the BCA Spring meeting this year if you want to learn more.
What is your favourite thing about being a crystallographer?
I like how varied the field of crystallography can be, I started off as a biochemist and am now helping build a beamline. If you told me at the start of my undergraduate, I’d have worked at two particles accelerators by age 27 I wouldn’t have believed you. But my favourite part of crystallography has to be when you get that new structure that nobody else has seen, and you get to dig into the fine detail of how exactly it works.
Who, or what, inspires you to do science?
I’m sure everyone has had that moment at school where a teacher tells you what you learned a few years ago was actually a massive oversimplification and life is in fact a lot more complicated. Respiration is not just breathing, and the cell doesn’t look like a fried egg, etc. This always annoyed me and made me want to know more about what was really going on. A healthy obsession with Sci-Fi and comic books probably helped lead me down this road too.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone starting out in scientific research?
If you are going to start a PhD make sure of two things, that it is a subject you are interested in, and your supervisor is someone you can work and get along with. If either of these are not right, it’s going to be a very long 3-4 years.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I have recently moved to Hamburg for my new job so outside of work I have enjoyed exploring a new city, I’d definitely recommend moving to a new country if given the opportunity. One of the great perks of a career in science. But in addition to that, I enjoy playing ultimate Frisbee, board games and the guitar.