The Joy - 13 August 2021

w/ Stem Cell Neurobiologist, Niamh Moriarty

The Joy is your weekly read, a chance to meet cool people, find a reason to smile and nab a cheeky deal while you're at it ​- all before the day has even begun.

This week we chat with an incredible scientist whose academic journey has brought her all the way from Galway in Ireland to the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health in Melbourne.

Niamh has co-authored a plethora of research publications on neural repair for Parkinsons disease.

Hey Niamh! Tell us:

What is your specialty - and why do you love it? ❤️

I have a PhD in stem cell neurobiology and I work on the development of therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

I love what I do because while it can be quite demanding and challenging; equal parts exciting and extremely rewarding. I love going to work every day feeling like the work I am carrying out, whether it big or small, could one day make a difference to even one person’s life. 

What research are you currently working on? ✍️

I’m currently working on strategies to improve stem cell replacement therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Without sounding like too much of a nerd, it’s a really cool concept.

We can take adult skin cells, reprogram them back to their early stem cell days, and then through a series of steps turn them into a cell type. In this case it’s dopamine neurons. Once these new neurons are placed into the brain of a Parkinson’s Disease patient, they have the capacity to produce dopamine - that is essential for restoring motor function and control. 

Cool right?


What have you been watching? 📺

I’ve just finished watching StartUp on Netflix and couldn’t recommend it enough – it’s very bingeable. I’m also currently watching the new season of Lupin, but it is hard to look beyond Friends for a daily dose of feel-good comedy. Plus, it always seems to be on during dinner prep.

Who is inspiring you right now? 📱

I find inspiration in a large variety of people and things. I’m a firm believer that we don't need to look to big personalities for inspiration and can instead take inspiration from the people around us - people who enjoy leaving their comfort zone and venturing into the unknown.

Watching someone make themselves or their surroundings better is inspirational.

What's filling your airwaves? 🔊

I’m a big podcast fan and can be found listening to a variety of different shows. No Such Thing As a Fish is a podcast from the makers of QI and is my go-to easy listening podcast. I would highly recommend it for anyone who loves weird and random facts. 

What do you drink when you’re not drinking? 🍷

Tea with just a drop of milk. You just cannot beat a lovely cup of tea and a few biscuits while having a catch-up with family and friends – it’s the Irish way.

Your go-to snack that makes the day better? 🥨

Cheese, glorious cheese. There is nothing in life that cannot be improved with some good cheese.

Finally, what has brought you joy this week?

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s to be grateful for the small everyday things in life. This week I was able to have some wholesome catchups with my close friends and family and it’s been fantastic.


Thanks for sharing with us!

Learn more about research at The Florey Institute
or read one of Niamh's Stem Cell publications here


Recipe of the Week 🍸

Garnish & Chill

 -  I N G R E D I E N T S -

Filtered Water or (even Pulp-Free Juice)

Whole berries, mint, orange pieces - anything!

 - H O W - T O - M A K E -

It's simple: pour filtered water into your ice cube tray and fill each section. Leave for 2 hours (or until the ice begins to form) and gently add your chosen garnish into the tray.

 - T I P S -

Try experimenting with flavours that complement your drink - eg. thyme sprigs to spice up a smokey glass of Ovant Royal or spiralised cucumber for a touch of freshness and colour to excite your Gin & Tonic.


Joy Story  📖

'The Snow Man': the inspiration for Kurt Vonnegut Jr's Cat's Cradle  

 Bernard, together with Nobel laureate Irving Langmuir and atmospheric scientist Vincent Schaefer, formed a crack research team looking for ways to control the weather and even break up hurricanes. In 1946, Schaefer made history when he flew into a cloud in a small plane in upstate New York and set off the world’s first artificial snowfall with a bag of dry ice. He became known as the Snow Man.


Pistachios wallop walnuts as toughest nut to crack

Like anyone who’s nuts for nuts, Notburga Gierlinger is always frustrated by the two or three uncracked pistachios that inevitably wind up at the bottom of a bag. Pistachio shells are so hard to crack, “I’m always afraid I’ll break my teeth!” says Gierlinger, a biophysicist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.