Describe your work in a Twitter post (140 characters):
“I look at host and parasite genetic diversity – why do some individuals get sick when others don’t?”
How did you get to where you are now?
“I just follow my nose, really, as most people do. You get interested in a question, you enjoy answering that question and finding out the results. As for the rest – a fair amount of hard work and a bit of luck, as with anyone else, I think.”
What is your proudest work-related moment to date?
“I think it’s probably teaching some of the undergraduate students, actually. Particularly the ones that come from non-academic backgrounds and seeing them coming through. It’s quite different from the research side, which I also enjoy, but the stuff that makes you proudest is seeing them come through.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I worked in a butchery as a young lad. One thing I remember is that they had a great big vat of pickled tongues and now and again you’d have to go in and scoop out this large pale furry tongue. People would buy bits of pickled tongue – an entire cow tongue is probably too much for any one person! Though my gran once boiled an entire tongue whole and put it in the middle of the table as a special treat…
If you had left academia in a parallel universe, what job would you be doing instead?
“I did think about going into medicine as a kid, which I guess is quite close to biology. The idea of being useful in your life, and of actually helping people and treating them appealed to me. Unfortunately I decided that I didn’t really like people, especially sick people, enough to do that… so that’s why I’m a scientist!”
Apart from Cardiff (or Wales), where is the best place you have ever travelled for work?
“I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago on Hydra, which is a small Greek island.”
What’s your favourite parasite?
“I quite like Anisakis, which is a fish parasite that goes through umpteen hosts. You can occasionally find it yourself if you get some fish from a fishmonger and dissect the guts. I admire its flexibility in terms of the number of hosts in its lifecycle, and its ability in being transmitted from one thing to the next.”
If you had to be infected with a parasite what would you pick?
“I might pick a tapeworm because they don’t seem to do that much harm to you – just might make you a little bit thinner. And if you’re going to be infected with a parasite, it might as well be something really huge.”
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind be?
“I quite like the books of Murakami, I’m a big fan of his.”
What’s your favourite type of cheese?
“I am not a big fan of cheese, generally, but I do like something a bit blue and creamy, like Gorgonzola.”
If your office/lab caught on fire, what would be the thing that you saved?
“Probably the hard drive.”
To find out more about Steve Paterson’s research at the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool, please visit his website here.