I did my GCSEs at Manningtree High School from 2004-2009. I did my A levels at Colchester 6th Form College from 2009-2011. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Essex from 2011-2014, and I stayed and did my Masters degree at the University of Essex from 2014-2015
I have a Masters in Biotechnology, an undergraduate degree (BSc (Hons)) in Sports and Exercise Science. My A levels and grades are: Biology (C), English Language (C), and Physical Education (B). I failed my Psychology AS level in the first year and got a C at AS Photography in the second year. My GCSEs and grades are: Maths (B), Science (C), Additional Science (B), English Language (C), English Literature (B), PE (B), Media Studies (C), Resistant Materials (B), Art (C), ICT (i think I got an F or an E), and Religious Education (I think i got a D or C
When i finished my undergraduate degree i worked full time over the summer in a hotel and hated every minute of it. I had some part time jobs organising a science fair and working with the careers centre when I was doing my Masters at the University of Essex, then I did 3 months at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control working on anthrax and typhoid. I then moved to Bristol and did work experience in a research lab before getting a job at the University of Bristol in a research lab working on prostate cancer, and then in January I moved departments at the University of Bristol and work on colorectal cancer now.
I am a Research Technician at the University of Bristol. I work in the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and look after 7 research labs in the building and do research into colorectal cancer
The University of Bristol
Favourite thing to do in my job I love staring at cells down a microscope! They’re so small but make up the whole of the body and when they go wrong they do really weird and interesting things.
I can eat more chocolate than you…
I live in a house that overlooks a really big park in Bristol (called the downs) and it’s so pretty that I wake up ridiculously early to go for a run and see the sunrise over Bristol. On Wednesday’s me and my housemates eat strudel, we put dark chocolate on the inside and have a mix of custard and ice cream and cream and yoghurt and it’s fab!
I really like scarves, but never wear them, so i just have a load of scarves hanging in my room. They look really cool and colourful tho!
I ride a bicycle all the time because the busses in Bristol never seem to come on time for me. Since I’ve been in Bristol I have crashed my bike 4 or 5 times, but somehow it still works!
I can do handstands and cartwheels, but I can’t touch my toes. I can juggle, but only with 3 balls so it’s not that impressive. I can’t speak any languages, but I can say 3 or 4 different words in different languages like ‘bagheta magica’ which is Romanian for magic wand.
Speaking of magic wands, Harry Potter is a fab film! The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my top ten films.
And I use exclamation marks too much…
Cancer research and looking after laboratories
I am a Research Technician at the University of Bristol, which means I’m a bit like a cleaner/engineer/manager all in one, who also does research. I do a lot of lab management, things like health and safety, risk assessments, and equipment maintenance (when machines break i try and fix them).
But I also get to do some really cool research on cancer. I’m working in a colorectal cancer lab, so we look at cancers in the colon which is the large intestine, and the rectum which is the bit inside of you just before your bum hole where your poo comes out.
My Typical Day
Tidy labs – do experiment – order materials – experiment – eat lunch – fix something – experiment – organise science fair – experiment
Wake up – sometimes I’ll go for a run
Get to work and check emails
Clean all of the labs of waste (empty bins and stuff) and collect liquid nitrogen containers and fill up containers that have all of our cells in with liquid nitrogen
I then check to see if we need to order anything in the labs so we can do experiments. Sometimes researchers are super busy so they use loads of things, but sometimes they don’t use much so we don’t order a lot.
Once all that’s done i’ll go and start an experiment – usually this means feeding cells or harvesting cells and their proteins – experiments have lots of incubation times which means we do something and then leave it to work for a couple of hours while we drink tea/coffee
Not a lot actually breaks in our building so I don’t do much fixing, instead i change nitrogen and carbon dioxide cylinders a lot as we use them for our incubators where we keep cells growing
The experiment has probably finished incubating now so it’s usually time to go and finish it off.
I’m organising a science fair (Big Bang Bristol) with lots of university researchers doing experiments so I spend some time doing this, usually emails or chasing people to do things for me.
If i’m doing a really long experiment then I probably need to go and finish it off, which usually means I need to take pictures of proteins to see if my cells are making them.
What I'd do with the money
I will make an obstacle puzzle solving game that explains how cancer and other diseases work
I want to build an obstacle puzzle solving game that teaches people about different diseases and how scientists do experiments to understand those diseases.
I will take the game into schools and to festivals, and will develop smaller board games and activities that can be left at the schools, and that people can take home, so that you can learn how experiments are done in your own school science classes or in your kitchen at home. This would give people the information they needed to make their own experiments using household items in the same way that we do experiments in the lab.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
chocolate, running, hot-chocolate
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I took a photo of some cancer cells that looked like the moon and almost won £1,000 for it!! I didn’t win but I still really like the picture and every now and then someone says ‘is that the moon’ and it makes me happy.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
No one really inspired me to become a scientist, and there wasn’t really a moment where i was inspired either. It was more of a ‘yeah i really like this, i’m going to keep doing it because it makes me happy’
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes. A group of us would talk a lot in class, usually sitting at the back – I once got told to leave the room and stand in the hall way, the teacher forgot about me (at least i thought he did), so I walked back in and sat down, he didn’t notice but then went outside to look for me, couldn’t find me and the ran off thinking I had run away, he came back and went off on a massive rant about it, he was the only one who didn’t find it funny.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I went through phases at school of wanting to be a hairdresser, a chef, a PE teacher, a footballer, a ski instructor. At one point i even thought I could be a journalist. But if I wasn’t a scientist now I don’t actually know what I would be, maybe someone who combines science and art to explain science in more interesting ways.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Taylor Swift is A! MAZ! ING! and she is on all of my playlists and when we have parties she gets them started! The soundtrack to lord of the rings (all 3 films) is just fab! But also, NAO and the Arctic Monkeys. And my fave song is probably Prince – I wanna be your lover
What's your favourite food?
Nutella pizza! Is there anything better than a pizza covered in Nutella?! What more could you want in life!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
With some friends I ran from St Ives to Lands End around the coast and it was absolutely beautiful and sunny! It was a lot of running, but we ran along beaches, up and down cliffs, through towns and villages, around rivers, and finally up a massive hill, it took us about 12 hours of running over 2 days but it was just such a great time. We also camped but that wasn’t that fun…it rained and the tent next to us snored.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Does unlimited wishes count? If not…..1, I wish it was healthy for me to eat chocolate for every meal, for ever! 2, I wish I had the ability to control matter so that i can fly and teleport and lift objects with my mind. 3, I wish I was able to run as fast, and for as long, as Mo Farah!
Tell us a joke.
I read a book on anti-gravity…..I couldn’t put it down. I would tell you a better joke about a wall….but you wouldn’t get over it
And this is what my lab looks like. It’s quite a big lab and it’s shared between 4 (i think) different research groups so there’s quite a few people in there – there’s always someone in the lab so you’re never lonely!
This is what cancer cells look like! These are some of the prostate cancer cells i grow, they are called PC3 cells. They are really aggressive which means they grow really quickly and they move a lot and quickly. Cancer cells have different characteristics, like personalities, and that means they sometimes look different to other cancer cells – these ones are really spiky and can grow all on their own, but other cells can be round like pancakes and will only grow when they are being hugged by other cancer cells.