I still can't believe I won! What a crazy fun two weeks. Thank you to everyone who took part in this great event, especially those students that voted for me!
Favourite thing to do in my job: I like using powerful microscopes and lasers to see what living cells in blood vessels look like up close.
I look at blood vessels from people and animals to find out why the vessels don’t work properly when people become fat (obese).
I take tiny blood vessels from healthy and fat (obese) humans and mice and study these to find out why blood vessels don’t work properly when people are obese. The vessels I look at are as thin as a strand of hair, and because they are so small I have to use powerful microscopes to find out how they work. We look at many things in the vessels like what happens when I blow them up (like a balloon) or what happens when I add different drugs to them.
My Typical Day
My typical day is very busy and starts with taking blood vessels out from mice or humans and then doing my experiments which can take all day.
On a typical day, I first have to prepare my experiments. This involves taking very small blood vessels from mice or humans. I also have to set-up my microscopes and make up the solutions and drugs that I will need on that day.
Next, I have to set-up the tiny blood vessels by placing them on smaller glass tubes or I have to cut the blood vessels open using a specially-made pair of scissors and a microscope so I can see what I am doing.
In this picture, you can see a vessel after I have placed it on the glass tubes and tied string around it to keep it in place. The top picture shows the vessel before I have blown it up. The bottom picture shows the exact same vessel after I blow it up. You can see that it inflates.
I then take the vessels and look at them with a very big powerful microscope which costs about a quarter of a million pounds. I shine a strong laser on the vessels and then record a video of the cells with a camera attached to the microscope. We blow up the vessels, kind of like how you blow up a balloon. Sometimes I change how much I blow up the vessels or what drugs I add to the vessels to see what happens to the cells in the blood vessel.
This is our very high powered microscope. I use it to look at the cells in the blood vessels very closely to help me understand how these blood vessels work.
The top picture here shows another blood vessel which I have placed on the small glass tubes. The end of the glass tubes can be seen inside the blood vessel (orange arrows). The bottom picture shows the same vessel after I have left it in a special chemical. The cells in the vessel soak up the chemical. Inside the cells, when the chemical touches a certain molecule that I am interested in, a chemical reaction happens and that cell will start to glow. I use a microscope and a green laser to measure how much the vessel is glowing.
This picture shows what the cells look like on the inside of the blood vessels when I look at them with our powerful microscope. These cells are called ‘endothelial cells‘. I am interested in these cells because they tell the artery to open and let more blood through, but when people become fat these cells don’t seem to work properly.
I will do these experiments many times and collect lots of videos which I can then analyse on a computer. After collecting lots of videos, I use what I have found to try explain the science behind how blood vessels work and what goes wrong when people are obese.
What I'd do with the prize money
If I win, I will be running a “young student science fun day” at my laboratory so that students who are interested can come visit and see where I work, what I do and I can tell them more about all the great things about being a scientist and a doctor.
If I win, I would like to use the money to invite young students to a fun day at my laboratory where I work at the University of Manchester.
In the morning, the students would be able to look around my lab, I can show them the microscopes I use and show them pictures and videos of the experiments that I do on a typical day. I will also explain my background, how I grew up in a poor area in Bradford (West Yorkshire) where I used to get into trouble as an energetic teen, but I eventually realised that I had to work hard if I wanted to follow my dreams of studying medicine and becoming a doctor. I will explain my adventurous journey at university and how, through studying medicine, I became fascinated with how blood vessels work which led me to become a scientist as well as a doctor.
There will be a nice lunch provided where the students will be able to ask me whatever questions they want about my job and my interests and they can also ask my advice for anyone wanting to start a career in science or medicine.
In the afternoon, the students will be given an interesting guided tour of the Manchester Museum where they can see dinosaurs, mummies and live animals, just to name a few of their interesting attractions.
Overall it will be a very fun day with lots of interesting discussion and activities for all, so please vote for me.