Meet Dr. Lynthia Paul

Published on August 1st, 2011
Meet Dr. Lynthia Paul

We find out how Dr. Lynthia Paul started her career as a Microbiologist, and what she loves about her job…

How I got here…
I failed first year medicine, ended up doing B.Sc with Microbiology as a major subject and was completely mesmerised by the subject. I studied at University Of Cape Town.

Some of the subjects I needed to pursue my career…
Well, I was always interested in insects, animals and science “things” in general. So it was only natural for me to take science, biology and maths too.

The thing that drives me crazy…
Experiments sometimes fail, or your research strategy does not seem to work (sometimes for months in a row). Many students struggle when this happens and at times it can impact your emotional health. Well, experiments require careful planning before you do them. They require you to think about what you are doing, why you want to do it and how to go about doing it. We also do calculations on a daily basis, and also have to read (a LOT!!!) to stay up to date with the latest technologies. We prepare reports and papers about our work and that requires careful preparation of our manuscripts.

The best part of my job is…
Having a theory, doing the experiments to test that theory…. and then your results show that your theory was correct. Pure satisfaction. Getting results for an experiment, and evaluating the answers I am getting. In our laboratory it is not strange to hear exciting screams from a researcher who has achieved positive or exciting results.

Things that are still baffling my mind…
I suspect that my curiosity will never be satisfied. In my field, it seems like you get an answer to one thing, but there are always new questions that arise as a result of that answer….fun!

Any words of wisdom to an aspiring microbiologist?
One of my fellow researchers (a Star Trek fan) once said that “she boldly goes where no one has gone before”. And that is the gist of doing research…..walking in unchartered territory to find answers to life’s questions. Sometimes you are disappointed with the answers, many a time it takes a lot of patience and endurance, but as a scientist you need to be resilient, persistent and not turn to your psychologist every time an experiment fails or the microbes prove you wrong.