Jess Bean

Last day of I'm A Scientist and it has gone so quickly!

Favourite Thing: Liquid nitrogen



Southam College, Warks (2000-2007), University of Bath (2007 – 2011)


MChem (hons) in Chemistry 1st class

Work History:

Takeda Cambridge Ltd, Cambridge

Current Job:

PhD Student


University of Bath

Me and my work

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 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…

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Short, funny (I hope!) and dynamic

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

What did you want to be after you left school?

A scientist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Never. I was a goody two-shoes

What was your favourite subject at school?

Chemistry and History

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

Met amazing people, travelled to far-off countries, found research I really enjoy doing

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My science teacher Mr White and my tutor Miss Meredith, who wouldn’t let me do Classics

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A historian

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…

Other stuff

Work photos:

This is Ratty – our lab mascot. He is currently guarding the centrifuge at the moment!