Ester Gil Vazquez
I did a Bsc in Biomedical Sciences in the University of Barcelona. After that, I studied a Msc in Immunology at the University of Oxford and I stayed for my PhD
I worked in the Barcelona Science Park as a research assistant for half a year before starting my Msc. I have also worked as a waitress, in a post office and as a Mojito maker
The University of Oxford – more precisely, the Wellcome Center for Human Genetics
My name is Ester and I am a scientist at the University of Oxford.
My name is Ester and I am a scientist at the University of Oxford. I am originally from Barcelona, where I was born and brought up. I lead a happy life for 23 years in Barcelona and in that time I graduated as a Biomedical Scientist. After that, I decided to move to the UK because I was not completely happy with the weather at my hometown – too much sun, and sunburns. In addition, I had noticed that science in the UK was clearly better than in Spain, and at that point appeared to be more stable as well. I have been living in Oxford for more than 2 years already, and every day I like it more.
I am really crazy about music. I love a good gig and, unluckily for my neighbors, I play guitar in my free time. To me, any activity could and should be combined with music. I am also an enthusiastic climber and, despite the amount of hours I spend behind a computer, I still really enjoy being social. Finally, I love travelling, trying new food and experiencing other cultures.
I work with cells, the little blocks that form all living things, including us.
Our cells are of different shapes and sizes and have very different ways of acting. Just like us, they can be more or less active and social; some of them are good at breaking down the food, or fighting the bad guys like bacteria and viruses, whereas others act as bodyguards for the weaker cells, or just breath.
But what makes cells the way they are? All cells come from the same original cells. During our whole lives, this cell divides and divides making millions of copies: we have more than 37 millions of cells in our bodies! Sometimes these copies are not exactly the same as the original, so cells start to differ between them. They also start moving to different parts of our bodies: some cells will go to our hands, eyes, or heart and some unlucky ones will spend most of their lives inside a shoe. Their environment and experiences also shape them, to the extent that every cell is unique.
Regardless of their differences, these cells communicate and coordinate with each other to make our bodies work correctly. In my work, I try to understand how cells work together in the gut when we are healthy, and how this is altered when we get sick. Our objective is to alter the behaviours of these cells to treat diseases, especially cancer.
My Typical Day
Lab work, computers and lots of reading/chating
On a typical day, I wake up, get myself ready and go to the lab. There are many different activities to do in the lab. Some days are only about running experiments: I put my white cote on and start working with tiny things: little tubes, pipets, cells…From these experiments we obtain new data which I can analyse using my computer. A really important part of the work I do consists on reading about other people’s research. It can help learning more about the topic I work on or about new scientific techniques. Sometimes I have meetings with my supervisors, who guide me and offer new ideas of things to look into.
What I'd do with the prize money
I would like to spend the prize organizing a science exhibition for a festival
I would like to spend the prize organizing a science exhibition for a festival. The cell world is so amazing and complex – and so tiny! New imaging techniques allow us to get really cool images of how cells look like and even how they move and interact with each other. There is no better way of understanding something as watching it with your own eyes.
I want to use visual material: videos and images. I would like to mix microscope images with artistic compositions: the former show things as they are, the latter can better depict the essence of the process. To that end, I would like to count with the help of artists that are interested in science and willing to participate in such a project.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
happy, creative, inquisitive
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I think that science has done more for me than I have done for it. But what I have enjoyed most doing was probably getting some result after having lost all my hope.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
What inspired my to become a science was the pure enjoyment of the subject.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Natural Sciences (mostly biology)
What did you want to be after you left school?
After I left primary school, I wanted to be an actress. After I left high school I was not completely sure, but I wanted to study science.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, I was a good kid (although I talked a lot)
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably a philosopher; or I'd have a pretty bad music band
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Jimmi Hendrix, Fleet Foxes, Alt-J, Bon Iver, Crystal Fighters, long etc
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Probably something involving adrenaline, like climbing or some crazy roller coaster. Or maybe a concert of my favorite band.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Can't miss the classic: finish hate and war 2. Can somebody please invent teleportation already? 3. being healthy