University of Birmingham
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (Genetics)
University of Oxford
Favourite thing to do in my job: To have my own project and to shape the direction of it, by trying new techniques and new ideas.
Looking at how our DNA makes us different from one another
I work in a genomics lab which means we are interested in looking in DNA. Your DNA is in every one of your cells. It carries the instructions that tell your body how to work!
In our lab we sequence DNA to learn the genetic code (or letters). DNA is made up of 4 letters A, T, C and G. The order and combinations of these ‘letters’ help to tell scientists more about the person they are looking at, as they can decide whether this change in the instructions causes a change in your body. The reason you are different from your friend is because everyone has a slightly different DNA sequence which might mean you have blue eyes and blonde hair whilst your friend has brown eyes and brown hair!
We have special equipment that allows us to do other experiments that other research labs cannot do, so they send samples to us and we work on different projects.
Some scientists spend their whole life studying the sequence of DNA. Many illnesses and diseases are caused by changes in the DNA.
We don’t just look at the DNA from people however. We have looked at DNA from things such as strawberries, stick insects and cows!
My Typical Day
My day mainly consists of the following:
– Following experimental protocols. A protocol is a fancy scientific word for the instructions to an experiment! You need a written protocol so that each time you do the experiment it is done exactly the same, no matter who does it. This means you can compare the results with experiments done before.
– Making up stocks of chemicals and solutions
– Cleaning 🙁
– Logging DNA samples and storing them
– Analysing data. We check that the data we send back to research groups is good; to do this we have controls inbuilt into every experiment.
– Updating computer records so we know exactly what samples are in what stage of processing.
– Maintaining equipment. We use liquid handling robots in our lab that allow us to process many samples in one go. These need to be flushed with bleach to ensure they are clean.
– Disposing of dangerous chemicals
– Updating protocols
– Talking to customers, e-mails and weekly meetings with my manager
What I'd do with the prize money
I would like to spend the money on materials to create an exciting DNA workshop for school classes!
- Read more
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Crazy, outspoken, emotional
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Published papers!! Discovered new things! And I have met some amazing people.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
No-one in particular inspired me, but I really enjoyed my final year lab project at University (much to my surprise) which made me realise how exciting working in a lab could be!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, usually for being cheeky or talking during lessons
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don’t have a favourite but I love a wide range of music and I am going to Glastonbury festival this year
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I travelled to remote parts of Indonesia to do conservation work in the rainforests and I saw macaque monkeys in the wild
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To win the lottery, to ban the use of non-renewable fossil fuels, and world peace of course! ;-)
Tell us a joke.
Two scientists walk into a restaurant. The first says “I’ll have a H2O” and the second says “I’ll have a H2O too”. He died.