Featured Scientist – Kyle (Kai) Murphy

Next up in our Featured Scientist series is Kai Murphy. Kai is a PhD student in the school of Biosciences, where MicroScientists is currently based, and has been a part of the team since the early days. Here’s a bit of an insight into Kai’s world.

Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi there, I’m Kai Murphy, a PhD student at Cardiff University! I started out my scientific journey by doing my BSc in Microbiology at Cardiff University. During my degree, I undertook a placement year (also in Cardiff University) where I began working with human cells, a subject area that I loved so much, I decided to stay in Cardiff even longer to tackle my PhD project! 

Growing up in the Welsh valleys, I’m a proud Welsh man that didn’t travel too far from home, and it was thanks to the bundles of support from my amazing Mam and Grandparents that I’m stood where I am now. The passion I have for science is only a fraction of who I am, and by investing myself into my nerdy hobbies, such as gaming, cosplaying and enjoying the occasional comic book, I can be the best scientist I can be, by being the best me I can be! 

Quick fire questions:
Favourite colour: Turquoise
Favourite food: Cornflakes
Favourite place: Comic con
Hobbies: Gaming, reading and exploring new places
Pets: Just one little pooch, Bertie

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Nerdy, relaxed, unique

What are you currently working on/what are your scientific interests?
My work currently involves developing a novel in vitro gastrointestinal gut model, to potentially reduce the reliance on animal models in general research. My main interests in science revolve around the interactions between organisms and how their unique behaviours can influence one, or both parties present, depending on the conditions at hand.

What do you like most about science/being a scientist?
Getting to be a part of a world where I get to play in the lab and discover cool new things every day!

Who is your scientific inspiration?
I’m inspired by the incredible Efra Rivera-Serrano, an LGBT+ microbiologist that isn’t afraid to be true to who he is, showcasing that scientist can come in all shapes, sizes, sexualities and that we don’t need to conform to the traditional, and somewhat old-fashioned image of what a scientist must be in order to do good science. He’s responsible for starting the #UniqueScientists hashtag (see also: @Also_AScientist) that showcases and highlights uniquely fantastic scientists the world over, is a scientific communicator and is a fantastic role model for scientists everywhere!

What keeps you going day to day?
Copious amounts of tea and cake!

Name three things you can’t live without/keep you motivated.
I’m a simple nerd so tea/coffee to help me through the early morning blues, video games to help unwind, and (to be a little soppy) my loving partner. All of these help get me through the moments where things aren’t so shiny and bright.

What are your longer-term career aspirations?
I don’t know exactly where I’d like to end up in future, but I do know I’d like it to involve some aspect of writing/ journalism/ blogging to help spread the word about the things I’m passionate about to the wider world!

What is the most pertinent piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in science (e.g. new PhD student)?
Keep calm – you’re meant to start out without having a clue about what’s going on, but if you can navigate the wonderful world of Science carefully and build a solid support network (within your lab group and beyond) it will get easier day by day, and everything will slowly start to click into place – just give it time!

What career/general advice would you give to someone in school thinking of studying in STEM?
Hold on to the memory of whatever scientific magic it was that first captured your imagination, be that an explosion in the chemistry lab or seeing the first ever image of a black hole – there are some incredible things out there to see and discover and remembering what inspired you that can really help get you through the times where things refuse to work!

Any additional comments?
If you’re in the mood for some science mixed in with the occasional gaming/ anime related tweet, then please Follow me on Twitter – @Kai_le_Murphy.

You can also see Kai’s professional profile on the Cardiff University website.

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