would like to thank all the students who voted and is happy to keep answering questions as long as you keep asking them!
Favourite Thing: I really enjoy getting my hands dirty planning and doing experiments in the lab. I still get excited each time I get a result!
Warblington Comprehensive School, 1994-1998, Charterhouse 1998-200, University of Edinburgh 2001-2005, University of Glasgow 2005-2008
2:1 BSc (Hons), PhD
I’ve worked as a lifeguard and teaching assistant during my gap year. I then worked at University of Southampton in my summer holidays during uni and at Moredun Research Institute after my graduation.
I currently work as a scientist and I am funded by Arthritis Research UK.
University of Strathclyde
Me and my work
I want to understand why people get arthritis and help discover new targets for treatments
If any of you have allergies to peanuts, pollen or cat hair, then I am interested in the cells that cause your runny nose and itchy eyes. They are called mast cells. They can do a bit of everything, as they carry a lot of chemicals readymade in packets inside them. My work is trying to understand what they might be doing in joints during arthritis. I’d like to understand whether they shake hands with other cells, or whether they simply shout over larger distances using the chemicals inside them. I use mice as my model and microscopes to watch the cells talking to each other. By understanding conversations mast cells have during arthritis, I hope to come up with drugs that ‘gag’ them to help treat the disease.
My Typical Day
Planning and doing experiments, reading papers and answering emails
There really is no typical day in the lab! One day I might be dealing with paperwork and emails, another day I might be working with my mice in the animal unit. Other days might be spent growing cells to understand how they talk to one another, and another might be spent talking about the project with other scientists. As my work is funded by a charity, Arthritis Research UK, I like to go along to clinics at the local hospital. It gives me the chance to meet with patients and helps me understand what they are going through. It also gives me lots of ideas about things that I could do to help them feel better. I recently did a zip slide to help raise money for the charity as a thank you .You can laugh at me screaming on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neVGqXPFnBQ
What I'd do with the money
I’d like to attend training on designing activities to take into schools to make science even more exciting!
I have some experience visiting schools to talk about animal research, on behalf of the charity ‘Understanding Animal Research’. I am not a teacher though and I’d like to learn about activities that I can help to run to explain things to you guys. If they go fizz, move or glow exciting colours then so much the better! I’d also like to try and visit the classes that have asked such brilliant questions, so that I can answer more in person.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, optimistic, inquisitive
Who is your favourite singer or band?
My friend’s band called ‘Gorman’
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I learnt to fly a plane solo at 17
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To win the lottery so I can do science for fun for the rest of my life. To have a permanent job that’s interesting and well paid. To have a healthy and happy family life.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I always knew that I wanted to be a scientist, but I dithered between Physics and Biology as university subjects. When I was told I was going to get a D in Maths A level I decided to do Biology and I’ve never looked back!
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
I was a bit of a boffin at school, and the only trouble I got involved in was when I was bullied. I got through it and came out a stronger person, so it wasn’t all bad.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Discovering that a vaccine I was working on protected mice from a chest infection.
Tell us a joke.
A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlour and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split. The waitress asked kindly, ‘Crushed nuts?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘Arthritis.’
Fundraising for Arthritis Research UK as King Kong (video proof here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neVGqXPFnBQ )