Excellent question. I would really like to study the movements of Galapagos sea lions between all the different islands. It’s amazing that we still don’t know how many Galapagos sea lions there are in the world. We think it’s between 20,000 and 40,000 but it’s hard to tell. This is because we don’t know how far and how often they move. With new technology, we might be able to put small GPS tags onto lots and lots of animals and monitor their movement through the archipelago simultenously.
I have 2 main experiments that the teams I work with are developing – one is called EMerlin, where we join the data from 6 or 7 telescopes together by optical fibre. We’ll get much more data – it’s like getting fibre based broadband (50Mb/s) instead of a dialup modem at (56Kb/s) and that will improve the observations enormously.
The other team works on pulsars and we’re putting new data collection in there too (it’s cheaper to improve the data collection than to build a new Lovell telescope) again, we’re working towards joining data from the biggest european telescopes to give the effect of an much bigger telescope. (There’s Nancay in France, Effelsburg in Germany, the SRT in Sardinia – still being built – and Westorbork in the Netherlands)
I have one last problem to solve before I retire. My dried blood spots over estimate the amount of drug in the blood stream when the blood is thin (low in iron). I need to find a way to solve this problem. I have lots of ideas; I need to do the ones which are most likely to work first. Then when it is done we will be able to use dried blood spots for testing the drug levels in sick children to make sure they are getting the correct amount of drug. At the moment this is not done because the tests would take too much blood.
There are soooo many! But as I’m coming to the end of my PhD I need to stop soon.
I was in Germany in March using some special equipment that can run 24 or 48 reactions in parallel. I found about 30 new materials during my time there, but haven’t been able to make them without another material forming with them since then. I would like to make just one pure and fully determine it’s structure and carbon dioxide storage capacity and then that will be me.
There are lots of other tricky little problems that I need to finish off too before I finish my PhD. Then I have lots of new ideas to work with a different sort of hole-y material for a research project after my PhD… watch this space! :-p