Sad that it’s the final day! Thanks for all your great questions! 😃
Torquay Community college (1994-1999), Torquay Girls Grammar School (1999-2001), University West of England, Bristol (2001-2005), Imperial Collage, London (2005-2006), University of Exeter (2009-2013)
GCSEs, A-Levels, BSc (Hons), Masters degree (MRes) and PhD
GlaxoSmithKline (Pharmaceutical company), University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter.
Postdoctoral scientist in bacterial signalling at the University of Exeter
The University of Exeter is my current employer.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Although it's a long day I love to work with radioactive proteins!
I have just become a mum, but before that I used to run marathons and do triathlons
I live and work in a lovely seaside town called Torquay which is in Devon. I live with my husband, son; who is just a tiny baby, and our two cats. It’s great because I am close to the sea and also the moors. So, I can go on long walks or days out at the beach.
I love to run and have completed two marathons (including London) and loads of smaller races. I also love to do triathlon with my husband. This involves a swim, bike ride and a run all one after the other in the same event. Its tiring but brilliant to know you’ve completed it. So, in my spare time I do a lot of training.
My hubby and I like to go to the cinema, and we like the Marvel films such as Thor and The Avengers.
A microbiologist working with a bacteria that causes problems in hospital patients
I work with a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Its a bacteria that is found everywhere but causes a big problem to people who are ill in hospital.
It’s a very clever bacteria and can cause many different infections, one of which is a big problem for people who have a lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis.
This bacteria can switch from a form which can be treated with antibiotics to a form which cant.
It’s my job to understand what controls the switch from one form to another, so that eventually we can find ways of preventing the switch to the antibiotic resistant form. This way we can treat those infected more effectively.
My Typical Day
I might grow some bacteria such as E.coli or Pseudomonas, or work with radioactive proteins!
Everyday is different in my job. One day I grow Pseudomonas, other days I work with a bacteria called E. coli. Some times I come into work and I have to extract DNA from E. coli in oder to obtain a gene I need to continue with the work I am doing. This involves using lots of different chemicals to break down the cell membrane of the bacteria and harvest an artificial piece of DNA that I have previously added to the cells. I can then do all sorts of experiments with this gene.
Then, some days I have to look at whether two proteins I am working with interact. This involves using radiation. I can tag a small molecule with radiation, and this will interact with one of my proteins. I then mix this radio labelled protein with one that I think will interact with it, and perform a series of tests to look to see if they have interacted or not.
It’s pretty great to get a positive result at the end of the day!
What I'd do with the prize money
I would go to my local youth group to run an interactive science day
I work in a town in which the majority of students would never think about a career in science, teaching engineering, maths or medicine.
I have previously spent an hour in a youth group doing one science experiment to help them engage in science. I would like to use the money to engage these students more, by visiting them again with some volunteers to run a whole science day. I would like to encourage more students and also parents of these students to attend.
The science day would involve a variety of experiments that the students could do and then an explanation of what they mean in the hope they would find it fun and want to learn more.
I would hope this might encourage these students and their parents to think about a career in science.
How to swab an agar plate!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Sporty, hardworking and a bit nerdy!
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Get my PhD and become a doctor of science
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My granddad was a chemist so he really inspired me.
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
I always wanted to be a scientist!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No, I was good at school!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Very random, but I would love to be a professional dancer
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don't have a favourite but I love hip hop and R'n'B music, especially from the 90's!
What's your favourite food?
Mexican: Fajitas, tacos and all things spicy!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I loved doing GoApe at a local forest
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be a better runner! To earn more money and to have a permanent science job.
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a man with a spade on his head? Doug (Yes, I like the tragic jokes!)