Thanks for all who voted for me, good luck to the two finalists. It's been fun :)
Durham University 2004-08, University of Aberdeen 2009-10, Cardiff University 2010-present
3 A-levels (Maths, Physics, Chemistry) and 1 AS-level (Biology) Bachelor’s degree in theoretical physics, Master’s degree in medical physics
A few summer jobs but I’ve never had a job outside of study (so far!)
PhD student in vision science
Favourite thing to do in my job: Discovering new things and solving problems. There really is no feeling quite like solving a problem with your experiment, or the excitement when you come to a sudden realisation of a new way you could tackle a problem. It more than makes up for the weeks (and sometimes months!) of frustration.
I’m finding out what makes your cornea transparent, and why diseases sometimes makes it go cloudy.
The cornea is the clear bit at the very front of your eye. It’s special because it is the only piece of tissue in the entire body that is transparent. It is almost entirely made of strands of collagen, woven together like strings to make a rope. These different fibres then have to be arranged in an exact way so that they let the light through. My project is basically to find out how much this arrangement can be changed and still leave you with a transparent cornea.
My Typical Day
I don’t really have one!
My day would usually begin with answering e-mails and reading research articles. Then what happens depends on what part of my project I’m working on. I test pieces of cornea using high-energy X-rays (this is done at the Diamond synchrotron, which is a big electron accelerator in Didcot, Oxfordshire), an electron microscope and by dissolving them with enzymes and looking at the cells under a light microscope and measuring their features.
What I'd do with the prize money
The money would go to Vision 4 Africa, a charity that sends optometrists and students to Uganda to provide free eye care to children there
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
messy former geek
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I measured something no one else has before. Knowing something that no one else in the world knows but you is a very nice (but very strange!) feeling.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My parents. They spotted from an early age that I had a talent for maths and science, and did all they could to nuture it.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
All the time, almost always for not doing homework (not that I recommend that!)
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
My dad always told me the minute I could work out how to get paid to argue I’d be set for life, so a politician or a lawyer I suppose!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Top 5 are: 1.Arctic Monkeys 2.The Black Keys 3.Radiohead 4.Stereophonics 5.Muse
What's your favourite food?
Bacon. I eat far too much bacon
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I drove an Aston Martin Vantage around Silverstone circuit. That was fun, and also a bit terrifying.
Tell us a joke.
Why did the farmer win the Nobel Prize? Because he was out standing in his field.