I passed through the GRE as a PhD student in Tom Owen-Hughes’ lab and stayed on an extra year as a postdoc. I was quite lucky in that I got accepted onto the Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD scheme where I spent my first year rotating around three different divisions before deciding on a lab to do my PhD.
I remember even when I was on rotation projects in other divisions Tom would invite me out to dinner and to the pub along with the rest of his lab. I thought it was a blatant attempt to sway my decision to return to his lab (which it probably was!), but soon realised that this was the normal state of affairs regarding the GRE social life! In retrospect I think joining the GRE was one of the most important decisions that has shaped my career. In research you have to be a little fearless (reckless?!) in trying out new approaches to solve difficult problems, and I think in the GRE people were never afraid to try something new – in fact I think Tom actively encouraged it! And that is probably the most important lesson that I learnt from my time in the GRE: don’t be afraid to try something new.
I still keep in contact with many of my peers from the GRE, and I suppose, as such, it has provided a global network of colleagues for me. Just a few months ago I received some plasmids from an ex lab-mate who is now working down under, and since starting my position in Warwick I have struck up a collaboration with Aga Gambus, another ex-GREer (Blow lab), who has gone on to start her own research group just down the road in Birmingham!