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University of Warwick (2012-Present), Imperial College London (2007-2012), Cardinal Newman College (2004-2006), Ulverston Victoria High School (1999-2004)
MSci Chemistry, 3 A-levels English, Biology, Chemistry, 1 AS Level Maths, 12 GCSE’s.
University of Warwick-Laboratory demonstrator, Firmenich-trainee scientist, RSC library-dogsbody,Care work, Morrisons, Woolworths..
PhD Student (Chemistry)
University of Warwick
Favourite thing to do in my job: My favourite thing is defintely to make new molecules. It is so exciting when you make something and know that no-one on the planet in the history of mankind has ever made that molecule before.
I am an expert scientist in training with a love of baking and the abnormailities of the world… who wants to be “normal” anyway?!
I am a PhD chemist at Warwick and live in Coventry with two other girls and a dog (called “Mouse”). I spend a lot of my time doing my work but I also like to be busy so have a lot of hobbies. I like to ride my bike but was also a member of a club where I rode a tandem with a group of mixed sighted and partially sighted people. I lived in big cities for the last ten years but grew up in the countryside so love to get back around fields and hills again.
I like watching films and reading books (my favourite authors are Roald Dahl, Sue Townsend and Alan Bennett). I also love to bake and watch baking shows but I am rubbish at making my cakes look pretty, feel free to give me any tips! When I grew up my brother was obsessed with the Lion King so I can recite the whole film from memory.
My dad and sister are doctors and my mum is a nurse, me and my brother also worked as carers for a while, you’d think that would mean we are good at looking after each other but normally we tell each other that we’ve seen worse and get on with it (my dad once told my brother to stop whining and keep walking…we later found out that he’d fractures his pelvis-ouch!).
I am a scientist at the University of Warwick
I work in a chemistry lab at university where get make new things and then see how they react, just to see if anything interesting happens! I am trying to make molecules shaped like an ice cream cone that can be used to trap smaller molecules inside them. I put metals on my ice cream cone because they are good at making other molecules react, even when they don’t normally want to.
These can take weeks to make a new molecule and involves lots of chemical reactions and then a lot of testing to see if I made what I was trying to make-because we can’t see individual molecules. If we manage to make big crystals from them we can shine X-rays through them to make 3D pictures of what they look like.
Work can be really fun, I especially like doing reactions that change colour, or using smelly molecules (I used to use a lot of molecules called thiols that smell like farts). But sometimes my work is very frustrating, like when I work really hard and my reactions don’t do what I want them to do. The good thing about this though is when your reaction FINALLY works everyone on the team gets very excited!
My Typical Day
Playing (“working”) in the lab!
I normally come into the office at about 9am and check my emails. On Mondays we either have a meeting with the group where we tell each other about cool things we have read about science or how our work is going or I go and talk to my boss about how my research is going-this always involves trying to figure out how to overcome new problems that we spot so it’s nice to have someone elses help.
As soon as I can I get into the lab and turn all of my equipment on. We use vacuums to pull air out of our reactions because some of our molecules react with air so we have to use special gases like nitrogen or argon that REALLY don’t like to react. I normally have a reaction that I have left over night that I need to check on. Here is picture of my fumehood where I work (sorry about the mess!) and our lab;
I then go and have lunch with my work friends and have a LARGE cup of tea and we chat about lots of things, not always science but sometimes we have very nerdy conversations (we once had a debate about which animals have the highest percentage of fat in their milk).
In the afternoon I set up new reactions and run some analysis with the help of other people at the university who are much better at using the big machines like X-Rays and NMRs (special magnets) than me-in fact they are some of the best people in the world at using them!
Now I am near the end of my PhD I have to try and write about my work too, this I find really hard and not as fun as being in the lab but is very important so I can explain to everyone all about the work I have been doing and pass my exam!
Then I cycle home and hang out with my flatmates and walk the dog if it’s not raining. Sometimes I go to the pub with work friends and we play pool or do a quiz. Or I just zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
What I'd do with the prize money
Do some demos/talks in the local community
I’d really like to put on some small events in the local community that are open to people who do not normally get a chance to learn more about science. There are a few local groups that I’d like to get involved in and offer something to. School is such a wonderful place to learn about science and if you are on here you are lucky enough to have enthusiastic teachers who want to expose you to science in all sorts of ways! I don’t think other people are so lucky, I would love to root out some of these people in my local community and show them why I think science is fun (hopefully involving some noises, gunge, fart references and help from my universities outreach team!).
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Imaginative, busy and noisy.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Worked with some amazing scientists from all over the world and passing on things I’ve learnt to younger students
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I don’t remember a specific event- I’ve just always wanted to understand how things work
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not very often-but sometimes for talking and being loud with my friends :/
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A critic (food ideally think of me of a sciencey/less bald Greg Wallace)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Thai curries or chocolate
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went and lived in Kazakhstan for three months
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I would love to have the ability to stop time-there are never enough hours in the day! I would also like to be able to sing and catch all 151 original pokemon
Tell us a joke.
What’s it called when the Queen of England farts? A noble gas.