Brynmawr Comprehensive School (2000-2007); University of Oxford (Undergraduate: 2007-2011, PhD: 2011-present)
GCSEs, A-Levels, MChem.
Paper rounds, Iceland supermarket, various odd jobs.
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).
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!)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, energetic, excitable.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
There’s no better feeling than when you get a great result in an experiment.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
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.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really, I was too scared of getting told off.
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.