David Bowkett



Brynmawr Comprehensive School (2000-2007); University of Oxford (Undergraduate: 2007-2011, PhD: 2011-present)


GCSEs, A-Levels, MChem.

Work History:

Paper rounds, Iceland supermarket, various odd jobs.

Current Job:

PhD student at the University of Oxford.


I work in the lab of Dr. Paul Brennan, at the Structural Genomics Consortium (an organistaion that is part of the University of Oxford).

Me and my work

I’m trying to find new ways that drugs can effect the body.

Every single cell in the human body contains the same DNA sequence; this is the cell’s instruction manual. However despite all cells having the same instruction manual, not all cells are the same. For example, the cells in the back of your eye that allows you to see are very different from the brain cells that process the image.

The DNA instruction manual is divided up into many different genes, and genes can either be turned on or off. The differences between an eye cell and a brain cell are caused by the different genes that are turned on or off. The field of science that studies how the body controls which genes are turned on or off is called epigenetics. Sometimes these epigenetic systems can go wrong and cause diseases such as cancer.

I work in epigenetics, trying to discover molecules that will interfere with the bodies systems for turning genes on or off. This could one day lead to new drugs to treat diseases such as cancer.

My Typical Day

Planning and performing experiments, analysing results.

Everyday is different but there are some common things that happen everyday. Most days I arrive at the lab at around 9, I then check my emails and skim read a series of RSS feeds to see if there have been any interesting publications in my field. If I find any publications that are of interest  to me, I download them and try and plan a time when I can read them.

The next task is to start any experiments that I want to do that day. Many of the experiments that I do involve working with someone else, so I often have to discuss these plans with other people. I always plan some time in my day where I can analyse results and to write up my experiments.

Most days I find sometime to chat to my supervisor for a few minutes about my experiments, and every couple of weeks we sit down and go over results and plan future experiments.

I usually leave the lab at about 6, and I always try and clean up after myself in the lab before I go home (I don’t always manage to do this!)



My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Friendly, energetic, excitable.

What living thing amazes you the most?

All life is pretty amazing, especially when you think about all the chemical reactions that have to be perfectly balanced to make it work.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I once had a helicopter ride over the area where I grew up. The views were breathtaking.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really, I was too scared of getting told off.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I’d love to be a sports journalist. Image being paid to go to amazing sporting events!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

There’s no better feeling than when you get a great result in an experiment.

Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?

My science teachers in school inspired me to go to university to study chemistry, and enjoyed studying science so much that I jumped at the chance to stay in university and do a PhD.

What would your superpower be?

I’d love to never have to sleep. Imagine how much more fun stuff you could do if you had an extra 8 hours every day!

If I could change one thing about the world...

I would make the world switch to renewable forms of energy.

My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:

The most Fantastic thing about Life is:

How it seems to be so delicate; but manages to survive in extreme conditions.

Other stuff

Show us where you work: