Each week we put the spotlight on a PhD student at JIC and get them to share three songs in a desert island disc-style game: one song that captures their project (expect some very tenuous links), one song that captures their life as a PhD student and a final motivational
song because – let’s face it – we all need it. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 11.27.13Aisling is a 3rd year Rotation PhD student working in Myriam Charpentier’s lab. Her project looks at the evolution of symbiosis in land plants and involves growing a lot of liverworts and molecular phylogenetics. Originally from Dublin she likes fluffy animals and making cakes

Twitter: @liverwortlife


The Project Song – Closer by Tegan and Sara

My research looks at arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis, where fungi in the soil supply plants with mineral nutrients in exchange for fixed carbon (mostly delicious fats). This relationship between plants and fungi is really very close indeed because the fungus has to grow into the cells in the middle of a plant to exchange nutrients. Plants don’t always want to trade away their lovely fixed carbon though – they might be getting enough minerals by themselves – but the fungus always wants to “get a little bit closer” with the plant because it isn’t able to get food any other way.

 This song also reminds me of symbiosis because it’s about the moment just before two people touch. In AM symbiosis, the plant and fungus exchange signals and start changing gene expression before they physically come into contact. It’s a pretty important time for both of them!”

The PhD Life Song – Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen

“Really, this would better describe my PhD life if the title was PCR Problems, not Boy Problems. That said, this is a really upbeat, sassy song  – everyone has boy (PCR) problems at some point but, after you whinge about it to your friend, you realise that your boy (PCR) problems aren’t really so bad. You break up with your boyfriend (order some new PCR primers), stop lurking in your bedroom and move on. Eventually you and your female friends (fellow PhD students, of all genders) are happily dancing together, surrounded by glitter. Or you go for a drink after work on Friday. Anything is possible.”

The Motivational Song – My Shot from the Hamilton soundtrack

“Look, if Alexander Hamilton can rise from a penniless, orphaned immigrant to the first secretary of the treasury of the United States of America, I can probably power through an afternoon of hairy root transformations, right? And hey, Alex might still be a work in progress, he may not have his degree yet but he’s not going to stop working and writing and picking fights with the other founding fathers until he makes it. So I’m going to carry on writing my scientific reports, even though I’m actually a bit tired and frustrated with my referencing software. (Hamilton didn’t even have referencing software.)”


The PhD playlist is the brainchild of Millie, whose obsession with making playlists is almost as great as her obsession with science. Follow her on twitter: @milliestanton and drop her an email if you’re interested in being featured!

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