Wooo! Thanks for voting for me guys :) I can't stop grinning! Thanks for all the questions, you're a clever bunch. I'll miss the live chats, but you can keep up with how I'm spending the money at www.eggandspermrace.com xxxxxxxxxx
Backwell School, North Somerset (1996-2003)
Cardiff University (2003-2007) BSc (hons) Biology, University of Bristol (2008-2010) MSc Reproduction and Development
I worked for an exam board that sets exams for GCSEs and A-levels for three years when I finished uni at Cardiff… it was nothing to do with science at all, but it gave me enough money to pay for my Masters degree, and I worked with some really nice people.
I work at the Centre for Reproductive Health in Edinburgh as a PhD student looking at what triggers labour in pregnant women.
It’s important to study this sort of thing because if scientists can understand what happens to make pregnant women to go into labour at the end of 9 months, then we might be able to understand what ‘goes wrong’ when women go into labour too early.
The earlier a baby is born the higher the chance that they could be seriously ill, so it’s important that we understand more about premature labour so that we can start working on treatments to stop it happening.
I’m currently building a ‘computer model’ of some of the things that happen at the end of pregnancy that might trigger labour. Hopefully my model will tell us a bit more about which proteins and which reactions are most important in causing premature labour.
There are three important things I have to do to build a good computer model:
1) Reading – finding out what other scientists think happens just before labour and what they think the important things to look out for might be
2) Modelling – A large part of my time is spent sitting at my computer feeding the model with information and playing around with it to see what happens if I remove certain chemicals or change how fast a reaction takes place etc.
3) Lab experiments – I need to carry out lots of experiments on real human uterus cells to make sure that my computer model behaves in the same way as a real human cell would. There’s no point building a computer model if it doesn’t behave like it should! I grow lots of uterus cells in plastic flasks and measure how much protein the cells produce under different conditions.
My Typical Day:
I check my e-mails, pop to the lab to make sure my cells are still alive, then it’s either lab work or computer modelling for the rest of the day, with a nice catch up with my work friends at lunch.
What I'd do with the prize money:
If I won the money I’d put it towards making a really good activity stall that we can take to music and science festivals all over the UK to teach people about the science behind sex and reproduction.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
like a squirrel
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Err… in general I was alright. If I was ever told off though it was always in PE. Once I arrived late and the teacher made me spend my lunchtime making sure all the hockey sticks were pointing in the same direction (why?!).
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I can’t pick a favourite! But I listen to a lot of Belle & Sebastian, Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire etc
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Hmmm… 1) for me and everyone I know to be happy, healthy and successful for the rest of our days, 2) to live in a cool flat with a cat and a dog, 3) to have some of my work published in a really prestigious journal like Science or something.
Tell us a joke.
Oh dear. Umm. Here’s a chemistry-based joke someone told me at a party once (I didn’t laugh either): Two atoms are walking down the street. One atom says to the other, “Hey! I think I lost an electron!”. The other says, “Are you sure?”, and the first atom says “Yes, I’m positive!” (geddit?!)