Whatttt! Thanks to everyone who voted, and congratulations to all Tungsten Zone scientists for being so awesome!
Claremont Primary School, Alloa (1993-1999); Wingate School S.L., Tenerife (1999-2002); Alloa Academy, Alloa (2002-2006); The University of Glasgow (2006-2010); King’s College London (2010-2015)
BSc (Hons) Pharmacology, MRes Cardiovascular Science, PhD Cardiovascular Medical Research
King’s College London (MRes and PhD student); Morrison’s (was “in charge of” toilet paper, crisps and breakfast cereal…), Debenhams (sales assistant)
Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Microvascular Biology
The William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London
Favourite thing to do in my job: My favourite thing to do in science is to do something completely brand new that I know nobody has ever done before. Sometimes the best experiments are when you think “I’ll just have a go at that and see what happens” rather than worrying about designing a super-complicated one. Although, a personal favourite thing to do in science is to stick small fluorescent labels (like glow in the dark stickers) onto cells and by doing this I can watch them move around in great detail.
I’m an immunopharmacologist, which means I use drugs to understand how the immune system works (and what happens when it doesn’t).
My lab looks at how cells of the immune system move around the body and get where they need to be, as well as understanding how they can help fight infection and what happens when these cells don’t do what they’re supposed to.
The work I am doing looks at how some of the cells of the immune system (called “neutrophils“) change as we get older. Do they move around faster, or slower? Are they better at protecting us from injury and infection, or worse? Do they cause any accidental damage to other parts of the body as they do their job? I am also very interested in how these cells make your veins more leaky to cause swelling, as this can be a very dangerous thing for people that are in hospital.
My Typical Day
Usually I check my emails, catch up on some new science, maybe have a meeting with my labmates and then head to the lab – one day I could be doing some work with mice, the next I could be peering down at cells grown in a dish.
I’m not really sure there is such thing as a “typical day” for a scientist! I will usually start my day by catching up on things in the office (usually with a banana and a coffee). I’ll reply to any new emails and maybe read about some new research studies that have been done. Sometimes I’ll also have a meeting with my boss and other members of my lab to discuss what we’re all up to and to see if anybody has any new and exciting ideas to share.
I usually spend most of my day in the lab, as this is what I am paid to do! Some days I will be working with animals (usually mice, sometimes rats) and this really lets me see the “big picture”. For instance, I can test the effect of a drug in a whole animal, where many different types of cells can talk to each other in a very complex way. Other days, I might want to “zoom in” on one individual type of cell so I can look at how things are working in closer detail. This usually means I have to take some cells out of the animal, sometimes to look at under the microscope. My experiments can be very different, though, which is great because it means I never get bored 🙂
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d like to make a series of online media (YouTube videos, podcasts) that give young scientists the opportunity to talk about their lives, their own research, and to communicate this to the wider public.
Too often in science, we only ever hear about what the “big people” have to say, or what they have achieved, or what their opinion is on a particular matter. We only ever hear about Nobel Prize winners and people at the very top of the pyramid. I want to change that.
I think that many people don’t hear enough about what great work scientists do and this includes the work of young scientists who are just starting out. After all, these are the people who will go on to become Nobel Prize winners! I’d like to make a series of vlogs/podcasts that allows bright young scientists to talk about their work openly, to discuss how they got to where they are now and where they see themselves going in the future.
In order to do this, I would spend the I’m A Scientist prize money on getting some decent audio/visual equipment and maybe some video/audio editing software to put it all together with. My aim is to have the vlogs/podcasts available on the internet, so you can all see and hear exactly what I did with the cash!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, determined, contemplative.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Not related to my own work, but I have helped high school students design experiments which have since been sent to the International Space Station to be carried out!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My family probably inspired me most. I was the first in my family to go to University and they were very supportive of me going off to learn whatever it was I wanted to learn. I am also totally fascinated by the natural world, though, so on some level everything that surrounds us is a huge inspiration to me.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not often! I was quite quiet and studious at school, but there were maybe one or two times I got a little too big for my boots.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’d probably like to be a doctor (a real one!), if that counts.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Chicken noodle soup.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I really like travelling – I’ve just been to Berlin and before that, New York, which I loved.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I’d wish for a little bit more money, my own research lab and that I had more time for yoga!
Tell us a joke.
What did the biologist wear on his first date? Designer jeans (:/)