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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Student voices: obsession is a great thing

Our Student Voices series gives our students a chance to blog about life at QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.


This edition is written by Olivia Tasker, third year biology student.

People often associate obsession with a bad thing, but in my case it’s a trait I never want to lose. It’s given me fantastic opportunities, met people I certainly don’t want to forget and will hopefully pave the way for my future. 

It’s not money, but it is something that seems, by appearance, equally still and silent. What lies beyond is what really counts, and that’s not the stock exchange. Most importantly, this obsession could give solutions to the major problems awaiting the future of humanity.

You might be surprised when I say the answer to all this is plants. They have always fascinated me, and now entering the third year of my biology degree I realise how there’s no other path I want to follow for a future career. It has led to things I never thought possible; for example, securing a place on the International Undergraduate Summer School at the John Innes centre, a world-leading centre for research and training in plant science, and winning a Studentship with the Genetics Society where I attended a conference in Edinburgh to present my summer work.  To top it all, I’m now conducting my final year project with Dr Richard Buggs on birch trees and hybridization.

If you're disappointed by the answer to my mystery, then think about what really matters in the world. How are we going to feed the major increase in population to come? How will we respond to climate change? And how will we treat illness and disease? Well, plants, boring as they may seem, might be the answer.

As we complain that we’re not full after a meal, or are disappointed because we won’t have a ‘white Christmas’, let us consider these questions. Maybe we should acknowledge for just a moment in our hectic lives that we might actually be lucky to have obsessions. Whatever it may be, we never know where it might lead, and it could just be to something that will help our world.

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