Zoe Duck

is enjoying the sun and the start of the weekend :)

Favourite Thing: Getting some nice results. It makes all the hard work worth it :)



Fairfield High School: 1996-2001, Oldham sixth form college: 2001-2003


Cambridge to study natural sciences: 2003-2007

Work History:


University of Reading

Current Job:

PhD student

Me and my work

I study the surface of the bacterium that causes bubonic plague, the ‘black death’

My work is focused on a surface protein that is important in bubonic plague infection. Bubonic plague killed a third of the population in medeval times and still kills over 1000 people per year. The F1 protein coats the plague cell and prevents the immune system from killing the bacterium. i am looking at how the protein is assembled. It is possible that the F1 protein can be used as a vaccine against plague.

My Typical Day

experiments, tea, experiments, lunch, more experiments…

In science there is no typical day! I usually spend all day in the lab. Often I grow up cells overnight and then in the morning I can use them for experiments. Sometimes I split the cell up so I can seperate the cell membrane and the cytoplasm and look at each bit seperately. I also use antibodies which light up so I can see what is on the cell surface under a microscope. Other things include copying DNA, making mutant cells to analyse and looking at the proteins in the cell by seperating them according to size.

What I'd do with the money

Run a science day for local children

I would organise a fun science day for local children to show them how much fun working in science can be and to give them the chance to try a few hands-on experiments



My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Crazy, wacky and mad!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Green day

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Spent a month travelling around Europe by train

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. A pet bear. 2. A paid year off so I could travel. 3. To find a good vaccine for plague

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist

Were you ever in trouble at school?


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

I have made some interesting mutations in my bacteria and managed to get the work published in a scientific journal

Tell us a joke.

manchester city