Laugh and Learn

Bright Club is a unique comedy night in which academics communicate their research through the medium of stand-up. I had a chat with Dr Kirsty Ross, who bravely signed up to perform at the Glasgow Science Festival special next week…


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kirsty Ross and I am a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Strathclyde.

My research investigates rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune cells progressively destroy the joints. A key cell type in the immune response during arthritis are mast cells, which are found in inflamed joints and could trigger joint destruction. We want to understand when, where and how mast cells affect arthritis. If mast cells are involved very early in arthritis it may be possible to cure or even prevent joint damage from ever happening!

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

I was (gently) persuaded into performing at Bright Club as part of the Science Festival, as well as meeting loads of secondary school pupils as part of the University of Strathclyde’s Research Day. I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new people and explaining why my work is so important. Arthritis affects one in six people in the UK, and it is good to speak to those affected by the disease, as it can often lead to novel ideas.

When you think of Glasgow, what are the first 3 words that come to mind?

Gallus, occasionally dreich.

If there was a zombie apocalypse, where would you hide?

I’d stock a boat with plenty of food, water and fuel and head out into the Firth of Clyde, occasionally putting into the islands to top up the whisky supplies. I am, of course, assuming that zombies can’t swim.

What’s your favourite park or nature spot in Glasgow and why?

I love Kelvingrove park, especially when I’m belly dancing in the West End Festival Parade as it always turns out sunny.

Impress us with your favourite science fact

You can fit the population of the world into Loch Ness and still have space left over.

Tardigrades can withstand temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, as well as pressures greater than any found in the deepest ocean trenches, radiation (at doses hundreds of times higher than would kill a person) and have lived through the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for nearly 120 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water.

Watch Kirsty make her stand-up debut along with six other comical scientists at Bright Club Meets Glasgow Skeptics on Monday 10th June at The Admiral. Tickets available online.


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