Lavant House (1994-2001), South Wilts Grammar (2001-2003), University of Dundee (2003-2009)
GCSEs, AS/A-levels, BSc. Hons in pharmacology, PhD in Cell and Molecular Physiology
University of Dundee 2009-10, University of Copenhagen 2010-13 and Oxford University 2013- present
Post doctoral research fellow/scientist
Favourite thing to do in my job: Everything, but my very favourite is using human cells to understand diseases.
I research how fat stored in your liver can impact your health and promote diseases.
I am a post-doctoral (meaning I have a PhD) researcher interested in understanding how fat stored in our livers effects our health. This is important because the liver is a key organ in how our bodies use fats and sugar from our diet and also how medicines work when we are sick. The liver can make its own fat or store fat from the diet. When we have too much fat in our liver it can increase our risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, we do not really understand why some people have more fat in their liver than others.
I use human liver cells and “feed” them fats and sugar to represent what we eat and see how these are used by the cells. By increasing our understanding of how what we eat and how much we exercise has on fat in the liver it will help us to develop new treatments for diseases such as diabetes.
My Typical Day
Looking after my cells (making sure they are fed and happy), performing experiments, analysing results, helping and teaching others in the lab.
One of the great things about science is that no day is the same. At least once a week I have to collect samples from surgery so I can use the cells in my studies. This means I do quite a lot of exercise on this day cycling between different hospitals.
Usually my mornings involve making sure any cells that I have growing are happy: checking they have been fed with special liquid called medium/media and seeing if they are growing.
In the afternoon depending on the experiment I might look at how fats and sugars have changed the amount of fat inside the cells or if they have caused any changes in the gene or protein level.
I also supervise some students who are studying for their PhD, sometimes this involves formal meetings to help them understand their findings and plan new experiments and other days just being there in case they need help.
Finally quite a large chunk of my job involves writing, this can be writing up my research for publications so others can learn and benefit from my results or writing grants for money to continue my research. On some days I may give a seminar to show others my work and get their feedback.
So no day is the same but they are always exciting and challenging.
What I'd do with the prize money
I would like to use the money to go to schools and organised clubs such as scouts and run a hands on interactive session about what is in our food and how our body uses it.
What we eat is important but sometimes it is difficult to understand what we should and should not eat! If I were to win the money I would use it to run interactive sessions with children to help them understand what is in our food and what it does to our insides!
Sessions would include
blind taste testing (which drink has the most sugar?)
I am food what happens to me in the body? (physical activity where the kids are various foods and have to run to where they think they go in the body (various zones within the room).
how much exercise do I need to do to use up the sugar in my food? (physical challenges)
Organise these foods into groups (high fat, high sugar etc)
make energy bracelets to illustrate how much sugar or fat is in food (plus you get to wear these home, could be a new fashion)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Geek, Happy and fashionista
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Had a picture of my cells used as the front cover for the Journal of Physiology
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My Chemistry teacher at school was an amazing lady, she made science so fun and interesting that I wanted to be part of it.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No I loved school although once I did put maggots in the biology teachers bag, scary thing is she never noticed!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Queen/30 Seconds to Mars/Avenged Sevenfold/Florence and the Machine/The Jam (I am quite eclectic)
What's your favourite food?
Charlotte loves………Mashed Potato
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Walked on a glacier in Iceland
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. go into space. 2. be a teacher at Hogwarts. 3. be a Jedi.
Tell us a joke.
Knock knock, Who’s there? The names Bond. Bond who? Hydrogen Bond