I live and work in Swansea but grew up in East London. I support Chelsea because the rest of my family supported either West Ham, Spurs or Arsenal.
I’m a scientist 24 hours a day; not just at work. When I cook, for example, I’m always thinking about the chemistry involved. When I do DIY, I can’t help thinking about the physics of things like why paint adheres to some surfaces and not others. I even often try to calculate the best supermarket queue based on how many customers in front of me, how many items they have per trolley, etc. So, I am a total science-nut and I love it!
My pronouns are:
I am a Clinical Scientist in the NHS. I diagnose infectious diseases and advise on the best treatment for patients.
I am the Head of a specialist NHS laboratory that carries out testing for all hospitals in England & Wales. I give advice on best treatment for patients and what further tests might be helpful.
I carry out research, mostly into developing improved diagnostic tests, and into monitoring numbers of cases so we can make sure we are providing the best testing service possible.
My Typical Day:
I usually cycle into work along Swansea seafront (unless the weather is really bad). I spend a lot of each day either taking telephone calls from NHS doctors about their patients, checking laboratory results before we send them out, and making sure all our tests are working accurately. Another part of my job is to be the Lead Scientist for my employer, Public Health Wales. This means I represent all our science staff in areas like training, and designing new ways of working with other NHS professional groups (medical doctors, nurses, etc.) to ensure we can make the newest technologies available for patient care.
One of the most exciting things about my job is that many of my days are not typical! I often have to solve problems and challenges, as well as sometimes dealing with very unusual and complicated clinical cases (as a national specialist laboratory, ours is the place where the most complicated cases usually end up). During COVID, for example, I set up one of the first hospital-based PCR labs for testing.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I visit a number of schools for STEM and, because of my wide interest in science, I often cover areas that do not have a lot to do with my normal job, such as Extreme Earth, Space, Electricity, Human Biology, etc. I love making STEM fun, and so would buy a few extra pieces of equipment like some magnets, to perhaps build a cloud chamber, and some items children can use to create and build their own designs for things like moon buggies and lunar landers.
I went to Stepney Greencoat Primary School in Limehouse, East London. After this I went to Westcliff High School near Southend in Essex. I studied Biochemistry with Chemistry at the University of Southampton, where I also did my PhD in Protein Biochemistry.
I got 8 ‘O’-Levels and 3 ‘A’-Levels (Chemistry, Biology and Physics). I was awarded a 2.1 BSc (Hons) degree and my PhD at the University of Southampton.
My first job was working in my dad’s pub in East London, with a summer job painting and decorating (the Special Care Baby Unit of a large London Hospital) while at University. My first job after completing my PhD was as a Postdoctoral research scientist, where I became involved in setting up the national Lyme Disease reference laboratory in Southampton. My next big move was to the toxoplasma Reference Laboratory in Swansea, where I currently work.
Public Health Wales NHS Trust
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Often. Usually for not paying attention or making up my own experiments in science lessons
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Law - scientists and lawyers both use evidence to make their case (but scientists have more fun, because we also get to design the experiments to collect the evidence!)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Pie and Mash (the East London version with green gravy!)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. Talk to Albert Einstein about how he created some of his thought experiments. 2. Be able to ask my grand parents more about their lives and learn more about my family's history first-hand. 3. Persuade Erling Haarland he should play for England and not Norway, because he was born here after all!
Tell us a joke.
Q. What do you call a pair of left-footed sandals? A. Flip-flips