King’s High School, Warwick and Cambridge University
MA (Hons) Natural Sciences; PhD
Cambridge, Dundee, Oxford
University Lecturer in Biochemistry and Tutorial Fellow in Biochemistry
University of Oxford and Oriel College, Oxford
Me and my work
My lab works on understanding the molecular basis of ageing.
We use a range of model systems to study what happens as cells and organisms age. In particular, we are very interested in the role of a protein called WRN that helps to stop cells ageing prematurely. We are studying the effect of mutating this gene in worms and flies, to explain why people with a mutation in WRN show many of the signs of normal ageing. We also have a long term project to age human cells in the lab and measure biochemical changes with age.
My Typical Day
I try to fit in experiments around teaching, admin, meetings, seminars and reading lots of scientific papers.
I run my own experiments looking at human cell ageing and collaborate with colleagues on fly and worm ageing. I also teach undergraduate students and supervise graduates. and research staff. There is no such thing as a typical day – they are all very different from each other but very busy and good fun.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Fascinated by life
What living thing amazes you the most?
Oddly, bacteriophage lambda, as it has an amazing life cycle with so few genes
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I spent a summer exploding things for British Gas – it was amazing
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
I accidentally left footprints on the ceiling once….
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I can’t think of anything that could be as interesting
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Experimentally, it could be showing a DNA replication defect in Werner syndrome; teaching is really satisfying too, especially when your students become great scientists
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist?
Marie Curie – I read about her when I was 10 and wanted to be like her.
What would your superpower be?
If I could change one thing about the world...
I would resolve the problems we have caused by global warming
My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:
Alison cartwheeling at the start of lecture 3
The most Fantastic thing about Life is:
It’s ALL amazing -hard to choose the most fantastic bit, but adaptability comes high on my list.