is still excited about being in the IAS final and wishes Jon the best of luck!
Favourite Thing: Glee :) Oh that’s my favourite programme, science wise, experiments that work!
I went to Hamilton Grammar School in Scotland from 1987-1993.
I went to Glasgow University in 1993 where I studied for my BSc Honours degree in Developmental Biology. After working for a few years, I decided to do a PhD in Reproductive Medicine in Edinburgh which I completed in 2004. My PhD was all about sperm!
Between my degree and my PhD I worked at the University of Bath as a technician looking at a gene called Cdx2 which is involved in early embryonic development. I then decided to do a PhD so it was back up North to Edinburgh for some more studying! After my PhD, I moved to Manchester and I have been here ever since!
I currently work for the University of Manchester and sometimes at St Mary’s Hospital, also in Manchester.
I am a postdoctoral Research Scientist, or a postdoc for short!
Me and my work
I make Embryonic Stem Cells that hopefully will be used to treat diseases like diabetes and cancer!
I am a scientist at the University of Manchester and I work several different projects. I am trying new and exciting ways to create Human Embryonic Stem Cells from human eggs (oocytes) that could possibly be used to help treat diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes, as well as helping patients with spinal cord injuries (like Superman). As well as this, I look inside very early embryos to see different genes that control their growth and development and I am also investigating a new protein which could be used as a treatment for breast cancer. I like the idea that the work I do in the lab could help people suffering from various illnesses in the future. My job is really good fun and I can’t imagine doing anything else!
My Typical Day
Experiments, results, coffee breaks :)
Well, in my job, no two days are the same. That is one of the things I like most about my work, the variety of it all. I normally start my day by writing a “to-do” list and plan all the experiments I need to do that day. A lot of my time is spent in a room we call “Tissue Culture” which is where we grow cells and embryos in incubators. The cells and embryos are rather fussy and demanding so we need to keep them at certain temperatures, with a particular amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They also have to be kept super clean and free of any infections which is why we keep them in a special room! I also help to train new staff and students that come into the lab and I really enjoy this part of my job. The labs that I work in are really friendly fun places and there is always lots of chatting and laughter in the labs. We have meetings every week where we all get together and talk about the results we have. I like these meetings as we take it in turns to bring in cakes and biscuits to have in the meetings! As well as carrying out my experiments, I have to record what I have done, and whether or not it has worked. I normally do this at the end of the day before I go home!
What I'd do with the money
I would like to travel around schools with my Stem Cell Workshop to show you guys exactly what I do all day!
I have developed an interactive stem cell workshop so people can experience working with real stem cells as well as learning how important they are in science. At the moment, I have to rely on Schools coming to the University at certain times of the year, and this limits the numbers of people that can take part. The money would allow lots more people to have a go, and hopefully become more enthusiasic about stem cell biology!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Funny, Clumsy, Scottish
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Too many to choose from! I like all sorts of music, especially stuff from way back in the 1980’s.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Zorbing!!!! You get put inside a giant inflatable ball then pushed down a big hill! It’s the best fun I have ever had!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. I wish I could sing. 2. I wish I could find a cure for diseases like cystic fibrosis and cancer. 3 I wish I could go into space, just to see what it was like!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Of course!! You will need to ask me what naughty stuff I got up to!
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I helped create Manchester’s first Human Embryonic Stem cell line which is called MAN-1. This can now be used by any scientist anywhere in the world!
Tell us a joke.
Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party? Because he had no body to go with!