Featured ‘Day in the life of’ : Lily, PhD student studying the role of oxidative stress in the brain.

I’m Lily, a second year PhD student at Curtin University and the Perron Institute here in Perth, Australia. I study the role of oxidative stress in the brain in Multiple Sclerosis and neurotrauma. Most days, you’ll either find me in the lab or doing desk work, so I’ve tried to highlight a day where I got to do both! I’m also a passionate science communicator and spend a lot of my spare time trying to devise new ways to communicate my science to other people. You can find me on twitter @lilymaytoomey and on Instagram @lily_the_neuroscientist.


4.31am – I always wake up early to make sure I can get up and get parking before all the slots are taken. This morning, I woke up, went through my morning routine, and replied to some emails before heading out of the apartment.


6.19am – I get to the office just after quarter past six, and I’m not even the first one in! I don’t do much when I first get in, but chat to my other early riser PhD students and get settled in for the day ahead.


7.27am – By about 7.30, I’ve already been on the cryostat for over half an hour, sectioning one of my brains ready for staining.


10.56am – Back to my desk for some tea and snacks before heading back to the lab. I also take this time to answer emails and work on my literature review.


12.01pm – Time to start prepping for my immuno run! At midday, I head to the freezer and pull out my slides ready for them to defrost over the next hour or so before I can start my actual experiment.


1.26pm– One of the techniques we use in my lab is immunofluorescence staining, or staining your tissue for a marker of interest with a fluorescent dye so that it can be visualised using a microscope. Today, I’m just setting up a small immuno run to test out some new antibodies that I ordered in. If they work, then next week I can do a large scale run on all of my tissue.


3.07pm – By just after 3, I’ve returned to my desk. I’ve settled down to answer more emails and alternate between working on an upcoming presentation I’m giving and working on a review article I’m co-authoring.


5.01pm – At the end of a busy day, I made my way home at about 5pm.


5.54pm – Once I got home, I batch cooked some chilli corn fritters ready for lunches for the next few days. I normally batch cook and freeze food on the weekends, but I really fancied some fritters for dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Once I finished cooking, I settled down on the sofa for about half an hour and watched some telly.


6.30pm – I tend to go back and do some more work in the evenings. This evening I had an alarm on my phone to remind me to get off the sofa and go back to my desk. I mainly worked on an abstract for an upcoming conference and continued working on my presentation that I had been working on earlier in the day


9.44pm – After heading to bed, I decided to read my book to wind down. It can be so nice to just enter another world inside a book and just forget about my PhD for a while, and not much longer after I took this photo, I went off to sleep!

Leave a Reply