Unique Scientist: Danny Ward

Time to meet Danny Ward (He/him)! Danny is a molecular microbiologist working towards his Ph.D. at the centre of The John Innes Centre and The University of East Anglia in Norfolk, England!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a PhD student working in the molecular microbiology centre of The John Innes Centre and The University of East Anglia in Norfolk, England. I am researching how certain bacteria are able to infect their hosts….and how we can potentially stop them.

One mechanism some bacteria use is like tiny biological needles which injects all the necessary components to establish disease in us humans, other animals and plants. This needle is called the type III secretion system and is the main focus of my research.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I love to learn. I am interested in how the world works and I really enjoy finding out new things. Being a scientist means I get to do that everyday. I am always learning and always discovering new things. It suits my personality well.

“I am interested in how the world works and I really enjoy finding out new things. Being a scientist means I get to do that everyday.”

Danny Ward

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am a #UniqueScientist as I don’t fit the age-old outdated stereotype of a scientist locked away in a dusty office all day and all night. I love to communicate science with the general population. I enjoy doing things away from the lab and away from science. I think sharing research with those interested and living a balanced lifestyle are two very important aspects of the job which in the past have often been over-looked or discouraged. I set out to help continue to change that.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I’ve just started to play around with a 3D printer! I am starting to design and make things. My long term aim is to make something useful yet cheap which might help people with their science or problems they face on a day-to-day basis. There is still much to learn, I’m very much a beginner to 3D printing so I still have a long road ahead of me.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would want to make the life of the common scientist more secure. Many academic postdoctoral contracts are temporary and often require you to uproot and move across the country or world every few years. There is no guarantee there will be a permanent position at the end of these short post-doctoral contracts either. This is a real shame as many talented scientists spend years of their life dedicated to a subject and then this experience and passion is lost as they eventually have to do something else entirely just for a permanent job and some certainly.

I would want to see more long-term contracts that allow talented scientific researchers to continue pursuing their passion for research in academia in a fixed location to make the academic job market more sustainable.

“I would want to see more long-term contracts that allow talented scientific researchers to continue pursuing their passion for research in academia in a fixed location to make the academic job market more sustainable.”

Danny Ward

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
There have been many talented scientists and scientific communicators who have really inspired me to pursue science at this level. Many are in the form of scientists on TV, radio and in magazines who seek to make science accessible to all. Growing up, these people left a lasting impression on me. They told me that learning can be fun, science is interesting and research is making a difference. The spark these people fostered in me continues to grow and my scientific curiosity of the world around me continues to grow with it.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
At the end of each academic year we have to write a big dissertation-style report which shows all of the research data we have collected. I have just finished my second year report, woo!

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