Excited now to hear the final result. Thank you to everyone for all the great questions. Have really enjoyed this experience
Favourite Thing: Carrying out experiments is amazing fun, but my favourite part of science is at the end when you analyse the results. Working out what they mean, and what it tells you. And being the first person to know the answer to that question.
I went to school in Hersham, Surrey. I then did a degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry (1990-93) and a PhD in genetics (1993-97) at Imperial College London.
I have a BSc degree and a PhD. I also recently obtained a qualification in University teaching called PgCAP.
Apart from a paper round and 3 months at Sainsbury’s supermarket (which I hated), I have only had science jobs. Work experience in a microbiology lab, an electrochemical lab and at Glaxo pharmaceuticals when I was a student. I have since worked briefly for the MRC Mouse Genome Centre. Then three years working for Cancer Reseach UK in Edinburgh, and three years working for the University of Edinburgh. In 2003 I became a Lecturer at Imperial College.
I am now a Senior Lecturer in the University of Bedfordshire. I teach Biomedical, Biological and Forensic Science students. I also carry out my research on cancer with the help of a Masters student and from next January, a new PhD student.
The University of Bedfordshire.
Me and my work
I grow different types of cancer cells in my research lab because I want to understand which genes allow these harmful cancer cells to grow, or protect them from being killed by our medicines.
I started working on cancer 15 years ago. Cancers are illnesses caused when the cells in our bodies become damaged and make too many new cells. This causes lumps called tumours that damage our normal cells and make us ill.
At first I was trying to find new genes that stop the cells in our bodies from becoming a cancer. I found one gene called WWOX which kills cells if they become a cancer.
After finding this gene I wanted to find out how it works. By switching the WWOX gene on or off inside cancer cells I can see what happens to the cells. I found that WWOX changed how sticky the cancer cells are (which lets the cancer spread around the body), and my student found that WWOX helps make one of the drugs we use to cure cancer work even better.
I hope that understanding WWOX more will help us to make our cancer drugs even better.
My Typical Day
Send my kids to school, give a lecture, reply to emails, attend a meeting, do an experiment, reply to emails, prepare the next lecture, read the kids a bedtime story, reply to more emails, play on the wii, bed.
A lot of my time in this job is spent preparing lectures and other teaching sessions, or spending a lot of time completing administrative work. This includes things like planning changes to the courses we teach, answering questions from students or dealing with problems they have, planning experiments, ordering chemicals, and attending meetings about strategy or quality.
There are always lots of emails that need answering.
To do experiments involves not only lab work, but also planning your spending, writing applications to get money to do the work, publishing your results in science journals, reading about other peoples work, sharing ideas with other scientists. Most days involve at least some of this.
What I'd do with the money
Send some of our best degree students to present their research projects at a national science meeting
All our 3rd year undergraduate science students do a research project in the lab. I would like to give some of the best students the opportunity to make a poster of their project work and present it at a national science meeting (such as those run by the Institute of Biomedical Science). This would show people from other Universities what research is being done here at the University of Bedfordshire, and will let our top students see what a science conference is like and to meet other young scientists from around the country.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious, friendly, nerdy
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Billy Joel or the Beatles
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Recently – visited the Harry Potter Exhibition at Warner Bros Studios with all my family for my 40th birthday. Absolutely amazing for all Potter fans.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Make a really interesting scientific discovery. Have a successful career that gives enough money. That my family and I all stay healthy and happy.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a scientist since I was about 11 years old, although I wasn’t sure what kind of scientist until I was at University and learnt about genetics for the first time.
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Not really. I was shy, quiet and “square” as some of my classmates would call me.
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
So many choices. First time I gave a speech at a science conference, being told I had passed my PhD, being told my student had passed his PhD, etc. But the best may be the first time I isolated a gene from a living organism (a bacteria in fact).
Tell us a joke.
What do you get if you sit under a cow? A pat on the head.
Lecturing on genetics to 200 undergraduate science students.
Me wearing my PhD gown to attend the graduation of my undergraduate degree students. (I don’t normally dress like this!)
In the lab, checking on my cancer cells. Smiling because they are growing well and behaving nicely.
An image from my collaborator from some work we published together. The image shows three chromosomes (strings of DNA) from some human cancer cells. Chromosome 16 appears in red. The yellow dots are the anti-cancer gene I work on (it’s called WWOX).