University of Durham, 2000-2004; University of Oxford, 2005-2009.
D.Phil. (Oxon.), B.Sc. (Dunelm)
King’s College, London
King’s College, London
I work on the evolutionary history and developmental origin of neurons.
I am a researcher in the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London. My research is centred on understanding how we make sensory neurons – the neurons that allow us to sense pain, touch and muscle position, and how they have evolved in animals. I also work on the brain and how the size of the brain has been modified during the last 500 million years of evolution.
Before coming to King’s, I read Cell Biology at the University of Durham and subsequently received my PhD from the University of Oxford in the evolution of homeobox genes, a crucial family of genes that have been central players in animal evolutionary history.
My Typical Day
Arrive in the lab, set up a DNA experiment, check emails, have coffee and chat, dissect some embryos (mouse, chick or frog), analyse them under a fluorescence microscope, read a scientific paper, talk about science or politics over lunch, go to lab meeting/research seminar, sit with my boss and have a scientific discussion over tea, spend rest of the day (and night sometimes!) taking photographs on confocal microscope.
My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:
Seeing my PhD supervisor help out Allison Woollard! (My supervisor was Peter Holland – the guy with the chicken and the snakes. He is the head of the Zoology Department at Oxford.)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Obsessed, sometimes confused.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
My lasy piece of work – showing how the cerebellum (part of the brain) in mammals evolved to be much more massive than in other animals.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
That’s easy: David Attenborough and the BBC Natural History Unit. Everyone who works there as far as I am concerned is a genius.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Almost never – I was a massive geek.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Taken my friend Jerome, who I met in science, to Villa Park so see a premiership match in the flesh. (He is chinese.) I have never ever seen anyone so excited about anything. Meeting people from all over the world is one of the great joys of science.