Sometimes I work alone for part of a project that I’m working on. I get a lot done when it is just me and the computer (but not if I’m on facebook too!). Generally the work I do is closely linked to what other people are doing too, so I collaborate with other scientists. These can be other people in my office, my lab, or at universities across the globe. We work together by email and Skype and if I am lucky I’ll get to travel to meet them too.
I am probably a bit more ‘on my own’ than most as I have a research fellowship which allows me to do my own research proposal. That means I get to set my own aims and look at what interests me. It’s a pretty scary thing to trust your own ideas (!) but thankfully I’ve got a great research group around me who are experts on some of the things I’m looking at, and they are really helpful to chat to. So I’m not “on my own” in that sense!
It’s always useful to bounce ideas off other people, otherwise I find I can get a bit bored or stuck on one particular thing!
No, but who I work with, depends on what I’m doing. There are five people at Oxford Uni who work on Zooniverse projects (http://www.zooniverse.org), so I work with them a lot and we are all friends. I am in charge of the Milky Way Project (http://www.milkywayproject.org) which means I coordinate a large team of scientists all over the world. A lot of scientists work as part of big, international collaborations because our work is often very specialist and so to find other people who know a lot about it requires thinking globally. It’s one of the most fun things about being a scientist.
I work as part of a big group of scientists and I love it! I have a big group of physicists who I work with at York, and we all help each other with every part of day-to-day life – from building detectors and performing small nuclear tests in the lab, to solving computer issues.
I also have many colleagues throughout the rest of England and Scotland, Canada, America and Europe who I keep in touch with regularly on the internet and we talk often about the work we are all doing – it’s very much team work a lot of the time!