University of Dundee

Jason Swedlow Q&A

Born in Los Angeles, USA, Jason Swedlow had an international upbringing, growing up Pittsburgh, London, Boston and San Francisco. Jason wears many hats as he is a Professor of Quantitative Cell Biology based within three divisions in the School of Life Sciences (Gene Regulation and Expression, Computational Biology, and BCDD). He is also founder of three organisations; Open Microscopy Environment (Director), Glencoe Software (CEO) and Tartan Cell Technologies (Director). Since March, COVID has become part of the portfolio of work that he and his teams work on.

What COVID-19 project are you working on?

We’re publishing the key data [via Image Data Resource] for some of the most important studies on how the virus works and what treatments do.

What’s your typical day?

Alarm at 7:15. Coffee at 7:20.  Shower, breakfast.  Zoom starts at 9am.  Ends much later.

What is now changing for you (and what is not) with the lifting of lockdown?

It seems very little.  So much has shifted to remote working. We did a lot before, but now it is constant and unremitting.  I did meet a few friends for a coffee last week—it was lovely.  

What’s it like to work in the School of Life Sciences?

It’s an amazing group of people and I love working with them.  Unfortunately, almost everything is now done by Zoom and Slack (and Teams when forced).  

Why did you come to Dundee?

I joined what was then the Wellcome Trust Biocentre in 1998. The people were great and it seemed like an amazing opportunity.  

What inspired you to become a scientist?

After gaining a chemistry degree in University, I raced bicycles for several years, but paid for food and tires with lab jobs.  I just loved working in the lab, running experiments.  So, I eventually decided to do a PhD, and then that led to a postdoc, and that led to an academic position.

Tell us a science fact

A single human has enough DNA in their body to span the distance between the earth the moon several times.

What activities are you undertaking to de-stress?

Yoga and walks around the West End of Dundee with my family.

What can’t you wait to get back to once lockdown is lifted?

Wine bar!!!

Quick fire questions:

  • Tea or Coffee? Coffee
  • Morning or Afternoon? Morning followed by long afternoons at the beach.
  • Cat or Dog? Have enough with the kids.
  • Animal Crossing or Tiger King? Haven’t done either, sorry.
  • Sough dough bread or banana bread? Sorry, I’m gluten free.

Learn more about Jason and his work in this recent BiteSize Bio podcast.