I consider myself quite fortunate to pass what I love as work; As part of my PhD project study in the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, I am trying to understand the biology of the stratosphere. To do so, our team, comprised of researchers from various disciplines, is launching small, special balloons into the sky, at a height that is sometimes three times more than what a commercial air-plane would go!
A view of our planet from about 30 km, taken by our team’s balloon!
Those balloons, carry with them a camera which can capture a gorgeous view of the Earth from the stratosphere, also, under the balloon there is a sampler by which we capture bacteria and other types of lifeforms living up there, later we recover the collected samples and study them in our lab at the Firth Court building. We work on analysing our findings using various techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy, and molecular techniques. This enables us to interpret what we have found in the stratosphere, and be able to tell the types and origin of the microbes that are living the high life!
In the lab, working on analysing what we recovered from the balloon’s sampler
The reason why I love my research, and what made me want to be part of the team working on it, is due to the unique and novel approach in tackling one of the most important mysteries in Science; Until very recently, most researchers though that life was not able to exist on such high altitudes, but our work is continuing to prove that this is not true, and that life is resilient and continue to surprise us. Hopefully, by the time I finish, our work will help to answer some of the questions about stratospheric life, and advance our understanding of the biology of our atmosphere.Tariq: International Office Ambassador from Iraq