2002-2008 St Andrews Primary School, Enfield
2008-2015 The Latymer School, London
2015-2019 University of Cambridge (undergraduate degree and integrated Masters)
2019-now University of Edinburgh (PhD)
4 A-Levels (Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths)
BA + MSci (integrated masters degree) – Natural Sciences, specialising in Biochemistry
PhD (currently in first year) – Genetics
2018 – worked for Artios Pharma, a biotechnology company that develop cancer medicines, as a scientist for 3 months
PhD student at IGMM, Edinburgh – not really a job but it feels a lot like a job and I do get paid!
I work at the Human Genetics Unit, which is part of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), which is part of the University of Edinburgh (very complicated I know!). My institute is in the north of the city just next to a hospital, which is useful as our research is mostly focused on health and disease. The building is massive and used to be three buildings which they have stuck together with bridges so when I first worked here I used to get lost all the time.
I live in Edinburgh in a flat with some of my scientist friends. I like cooking, sewing and exploring.
I study cells to understand more about what happens to them when they are damaged, to try and turn these damage control pathways back on in people with cancer.
Our bodies are made up of small building blocks called cells. Inside each of these cells is a molecule called DNA. DNA is a very long molecule – each cell contains 2 metres of DNA which is coiled up so it can fit into the cell which is so tiny you can’t see it with the naked eye. The DNA is made up of lots of short sections called genes, each of which tells the cell what to do.
The cells are constantly dividing to make new cells. If they become damaged they can stop dividing in a process known as senescence. Senescent cells also go through some other changes – their DNA bunches together in blobs and they produce chemicals which tell other cells what is happening to them.
In the cells of people with cancer, often the cells can’t become senescent anymore which is why they divide so often and form tumours. If we understand more about the process of senescence, we might be able to turn it back on in these cancer cells and help to treat people with cancer.
I mainly try and find out about this by growing cells in a dish and doing different experiments on them. These include extracting the DNA from the cells and analysing it on a computer using coding.
My Typical Day:
I wake up and get the bus across the city to my lab. Then I either spend the day on my computer trying to make my code work, or in the lab looking after my cells. I go for lunch with all the other PhD students, and we talk about what’s going on in our lives or the latest episode of the Great British Bake off!
7:30 Wake up and eat some breakfast.
8:45 Get on the bus to the lab.
9:30 Arrive in my office, check my emails in case my supervisor wants me to do anything new or anything else exciting is happening (like free food!)
9:45-12:00 I spend the morning either in the lab doing experiments or at my desk doing coding on the supercomputer.
12:00-1:00 Lunch with the other PhD students.
1:00-2:00 Seminar. A science expert usually from another institute will come and talk about their research for an hour. We have topics ranging from hair colour to dinosaurs!
2:00-5:00 More experiments or coding.
5:00 Home time! (Unless I have an experiment that takes a long time, in which case I’ll stay a bit longer in the evening. Occasionally I will have to come in at the weekend but I try and avoid this if possible because its good to take breaks!)
What I'd do with the prize money:
I’d make an app where you get to be a scientist to show people what our day-to-day life is like in a fun way.
I’d like to make an app called You’re The Scientist. This would be a game where you’d be a scientist working in a lab to show the public what day to day life as a scientist is like. You’d be able to do stuff like grow your own cells and look at them through the microscope. There’d also be the chance to see some of the problems we come across, like cells being contaminated and accidentally dropping your experiment on the floor!
Although I have some coding experience I have never done any app development so I’d use the money towards teaching me how, or getting someone else to help me with it.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Chatty, quirky, clumsy
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
A scientist who came into my school and later gave me some work experience in her lab.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology, but I also really liked Textiles :)
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to become an author and write my own books! Still could happen maybe?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
One time I pinged a hairband at the guy opposite me's face but the teacher wouldn't believe that it was me! I also got in trouble for talking too much because I'm a bit chatty.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Run my own cafe! I love food basically.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Sigrid, though I'm also a big Taylor Swift fan
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Walk all the way from my house to the beach (4 miles!). I've never lived by the sea before so this was a fun experience for me!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Be able to buy a house, get a pet (my current landlord doesn't allow them :() and for my experiments to all work!
Tell us a joke.
What do you call two dinosaurs that have been in an accident? Tyrannosaurus WRECKS