University of Dundee

Simon Li Q&A

Originally from Birmingham, UK, Simon Li is a systems and software engineer in the Open Microscopy Environment (OME). He is part of the OME team that develops and manages systems like the Image Data Resource, and School of Life Science's own nightshade OMERO.server. In April, new image data of the SARS-CoV-2 virus needed a platform for sharing with the wider scientific community. Simon assisted with this work.

What do you normally work on and how has COVID-19 become part of that work?

The Image Data Resource (IDR) is a public website for sharing important microscopy images taken by researchers in the life sciences. Anyone can browse and search through the images, whether for research or just for fun! In April, researchers from the Netherlands wanted to publish ground-breaking images of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These images were 13 gigapixels in size, 1000 times larger than a photo from an iPhone. These were successfully published in the IDR along with a press release, giving the us and SLS some nice publicity, including in The Sun and Daily Mirror!

What’s your typical day?

Other than not going into the office, not much has changed! A laptop can be used anywhere.

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

The OME has always had several remote workers so everyone is already used to using online chat and video conferencing. In addition, Computational Biology has a daily coffee morning on Zoom.

Why did you come to Dundee?

The work done by the OME was a nice progression from the projects I worked on during my PhD. Also access to the Highlands of Scotland!

What inspired you to become a scientist?

I like the idea of combining the physical sciences, which are sometimes (incorrectly) seen as cold and mechanical, with the complexity and unpredictability of biology.

Tell us a science fact

The inside surface of your intestines completely renews itself every week.

What activities are you undertaking to de-stress?

Cycling, mostly in the Sidlaws.

What can’t you wait to get back to once remaining lockdown measures are lifted?

Rock climbing, indoors and outdoors.

Quick fire questions:

  • Tea or Coffee? Coffee from Pacamara
  • Morning or Afternoon? Afternoon
  • Cat or Dog? Cat
  • Animal Crossing or Tiger King? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Sourdough bread or banana bread? Sourdough