After three years of hard work in three different labs, I still consider myself as a junior postdoc who is not yet…
Passion Outside the Lab: Narratives of Master Students at the University of Ghana
This article was written by second year MPhil students of West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens, the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Ghana and initiated by Dr. Abiola Isawumi, a Faculty and Research Fellow at the Institute.
Scientists all over the world, of any heritage are often portrayed as nerdy, socially awkward, incessantly burying their heads in big thick books and mixing chemicals in the lab in hopes of curing one human ravaging disease or the other. Sheldon and Leonard in the ‘Big Bang Theory’ have also done their best to propagate this fallacy. But underneath all that serious and stern disposition lies both unpursued and pursued passions and interests that extend beyond scientific culture. People do not have the foggiest idea about this, do they?
Nonetheless, there are still scientists who live this stereotype. Imagine instead scientists who could give William Shakespeare a run for his money, scientists who could be the better of Gordon Ramsay or scientists who could bring scientific language into everyday life in the simplest things such as bidding someone a happy birthday. Scientists also have a life that does not involve holding pipettes and praying over their cultures; God forbid the cells fail to grow or worse, suffer contamination. Scientists also have a flair in other fields and it’s no different for early career researchers in general and for the MPhil students of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Ghana:
Christiana Dufie Asamoah: The poetry fanatic!
Analyzing poetry for me is an adventurous journey trying to peer into the mind of the writer and to navigate the true meaning lurking behind all those beautifully crafted words. I relish the thrill and ecstasy in the analyzing of poetry. Poetry is the expression of a writer’s thoughts on an array of subjects such as anger, joy, pain, plaguing social issues, requited and unrequited love in a rhythmic and creative fashion pleasing to a reader. It’s like solving a puzzle or going through a maze and having a eureka moment when one find’s one’s way out of the maze.
Poetry is interlaced with host of literary devices such as euphemism, personification, metaphor where every last word of a preceding sentence rhyms with the last word in the succeeding sentence. I get to have an appreciation of how poets string words together to express their thoughts in a creative writing and I also relish the fact I get to enrich my vocabulary from the new words I come across.
Gertrude Elorm Kudowor: The music lover
When I think about music, I think about the waves of the ocean. Ever been to the beach at night? You would realize the calmness of our world. Music is that soulish tint calming our chaotic world. Music is that friend that always knows the right things to say, every step of the way forward. Clashes of sounds to produce harmony. A place where you are allowed to wallow in the wildest of dreams. A blend of sounds to produce harmony. This is me, and that’s what I do outside the lab.
Maame Ekua Oforiwaa Ofori: The prospective Mercedes Benz Pit Crew member
Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. It combines the fastest cars, human ingenuity in mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, with the raw, fast talent of some of the best drivers in the world. I love how unpredictable it is. You can be leading the race one second and be in the wall the next. I love how every race is not just a sporting event, but a celebration of the culture of whatever city they’re in for the weekend.
Formula 1 has helped increase my interest in geography, introducing me to cities like Baku, Melbourne, Sochi, Imola, Monza, Spa-Francochamps etc. I feel I can live vicariously through the drivers, who jet-set across the world weekend after weekend to race. It certainly helps to love formula 1 when most of the drivers are very good-looking young men.
Abdul Hamid Nuhu: If Jim Beglin were a scientist
I am a man of many passions, most of which are driven by curiosity. Beyond science, I’m mostly passionate about people, food, music, art and, most importantly, sports. In their own ways, these inspire every moment of my existence, mostly through the creation of long-lasting memories.
Sports, for instance, is filled with loads of raw moments each accompanied with the rush of adrenaline. Like when Ray Allen hit a corner three in the closing seconds of game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals to force game 7 with thrilling overtime. Miami goes on to win the best of seven series including their third championship. Or in the finals of the 2012 UEFA Champions League when Drogba headed the ball past Neuer in the closing minutes to send the game to extra time and then to penalties. Drogba took the last kick in sudden death to secure Chelsea FC’s first UEFA Champions League title. Beyond these raw adrenaline rushing moments follows the inspiration of working hard, never giving up and continuing to strive for greatness.
Mona-Liza Ebiere Sakyi: The Pen that writes
As a child growing up in Ghana, West Africa, I understood every parent had a dream for their children to not end up just anyhow. And as children, we were tasked to accomplish the dreams of our parents to become Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers etc, without a choice. However, it was never a bad idea, but when growing up we began creating a vision for ourselves, setting goals and planning for our future. But the real question is, how many of us accomplished those goals and realized or actualized those visions?
Apart from being a scientist, I love writing. I started a book on “A teenager’s Vision”, it entails stories of my life and guide for teens with great visions for their lives and ways to accomplish those visions. Although I love to talk, I feel I was created that way for a purpose to speak to people about the realities of life and how to overcome these challenges. If you have a dream, make sure you accomplish it.
Felix Selasi Dewornu: The living and breathing stereotype
Bacteria have coexisted with humans since the other began to exist – that is whichever came first according to the creation story one chooses to believe. While this coexistence has proven to be beneficial to humans in many aspects of life, the undesired impact our microscopic neighbors can have on our health remains a challenge to our existence and quality of life.
Humanity must however fret not, for nature has not left us to our doom after all. Solutions to this existential problem lies within these microbes, and with the minds of our best and brightest as our tools, we will find them, mine them, and forge weapons out of them, That’s the beauty of drug discovery!
Judah Kafui Cofie: The Pianist
If I wasn’t aspiring to be a scientist, I’d probably be a musician. Outside the rigor of the laboratory, data collection, trying to find answers to different research questions, I find fulfillment playing the piano. I am always thrilled by the black and white design of the piano-board and I find solace in running my fingers down every note.
In this world of mine, the twelve piano keys bring an endless possibility of sound, rhythm, chords, phrases and pitch. Nothing beats the music I produce with my own hands on the piano. I am not only limited to one genre of music. From the chaotic world of jazz to the ordered structure of classical music and our very own rich African highlife music style, I enjoy all of it. At the end of the day, my expression in rhythm transcends time and brings joy to my soul.
Jude Tetteh Quashie: We’ve got a chef on our hands!
I created my Facebook account over six years ago. Those were the times when typing in shorthand was a flex. I never really had any use for my account because in those days, Facebook was used to make new friends and meet new people; and for me, well I was me. In 2021, I found a new use for Facebook. I made this discovery at dawn when I was downloading some movies. Yes, that is what I do at dawn, don’t judge me. Anyway, I discovered some channels on Facebook that show very nice videos of people cooking. Do not be mistaken, I do not enjoy cooking that much; I only cook for survival. There is this channel called the Food Ranger. They just travel around the world and eat good (or not-so-good) food. At one point I wanted my life to be like that. I still do. I am hoping that is something I will love to do outside the lab. These videos have taught me some tricks though. Who knew a full chicken could be grilled over a can of Heineken? But wait, does the food taste good actually? These people don’t add the spices I am used to. And why do they add a bowl of sugar to everything?
Kwadwo Fosu: The custodian of scientific diction
The delineation of my key molecular pathways has enhanced my knowledge in gathering data to ascertain with facts that this day represents discovery in the chronological events of time. This has influenced my primary aim to process wishes within my sensory homunculus as my nerve impulse generates an acetylcholine to bind to receptors on my outside muscle fiber allowing influx of sodium ions into my system. Thereby triggering the release of calcium ions which has led to a cascade of protein conformations to generate contraction in my muscles to move my phalanges to write this wonderful birthday message. Just as Interphase, S-phase DNA replication and duplication of the centrosome are the key actions, I pray you duplicate your success. Just as lysosomal proteins are glycosylated with Mannose-6-phosphate for sorting, I pray you will be sorted among the greats. Just as the designs of the innate immune system to fight foreign materials with the potential of causing harm, may peace be your first line of defense in life. In unexpected situations, may your adaptive immune system be ever strong. May anything like a phosphatase in your life meet its protease. May your life be an attractive protein that others will move to you for support. Life is not a signaling complex, but I believe your life can serve as a precursor and activator of good and positive things in people’s life.
Featured Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay