Last day of I'm A Scientist and it has gone so quickly!
Southam College, Warks (2000-2007), University of Bath (2007 – 2011)
MChem (hons) in Chemistry 1st class
Takeda Cambridge Ltd, Cambridge
University of Bath
Favourite thing to do in my job: Liquid nitrogen
Working at the middle point between biology and chemistry to find some new ways to kill bacteria.
My work is developing dressings for burn wounds, especially burns found in children, which are most commonly caused by hot drinks, i.e. tea. Everybody has heard about the rise of “superbug” infections. These are infections by bacteria that are not killed by the drugs we have been using for the past 80 years – we call them multi-drug resistant bacteria. A burn is at a high risk of getting infected, as it is a break in the skins defences that can let bacteria into the body. If bacteria enter the body this can cause fatal infections and complications.
The dressings that I work on cover the burn and help it to heal, but also are able to kill bacteria. They contain enzymes or other natural antimicrobials that act in the same way as antibiotics to kill bacteria and stop infection. These enzymes are better than antibiotics as ‘superbugs’ haven’t had a chance to become resistant to them.
My Typical Day
Check my e-mails in the office and then off to the lab to check on the experiments I put on the night before…
A lot of my work uses bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA is in this group)) which takes 18 hours to grow properly before it is ready to use. This means I have to plan most of my work in advance if it is anything to do with biology. The experiments themselves then take overnight again to work, so there is a lot of “waiting for things to grow”.
Whilst the biological experiments are happening, I then have time to do some chemistry! This frequently doesn’t work as well as the biology, but as a chemist I find it loads of fun anyway!
What I'd do with the prize money
I’m thinking of creating an interactive scheme to go into schools to show off the exciting bits of chemistry and biology that aren’t in the textbooks…..
The best bits about science can so often be hidden away out of the textbooks. I want to get science back into a hands-on environment so students can really get their hands dirty!
There are loads of exciting experiments that can be bought into schools for everyone to enjoy. I’m thinking … rocket launches, extracting your own DNA with pineapple juice and washing up liquid, making super-quick ice-cream with liquid nitrogen…
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Short, funny (I hope!) and dynamic
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Met amazing people, travelled to far-off countries, found research I really enjoy doing
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My science teacher Mr White and my tutor Miss Meredith, who wouldn’t let me do Classics
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Never. I was a goody two-shoes
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Red Hot Chili Peppers
What's your favourite food?
Anything! My friends will all agree; I eat alot and FAST!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Sliding down a rock slide into a pool underneath a waterfall in Thailand
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
3 inches taller please! And I wouldn’t mind being fluent in a few more languages. I’ll keep the last spare for a rainy day
Tell us a joke.
Schrodinger’s cat walks into a bar. And doesn’t…