Christopher Whitehead High School – Worcester Sixth Form College – Selwyn College Cambridge (undergraduate degree) – University of Glasgow (PhD)
10 x GCSEs, including 3 x separate sciences
3 x A-levels – Biology, Chemistry and Psychology. I considered an AS level in maths but was told it wouldn’t affect the maths course I had to take alongside my science at univertsity and so didn’t do this. In some ways I wish I had, as chemistry especially was quite maths-based at university.
Undergraduate degree in Natural Sciencies – biological.
PhD in virology, studying Herpes Simplex Virus
– youth group helper
– various summer jobs (cleaning, office work, catering)
– lab research assistant (prior to PhD)
– post-doc in academic lab
– senior scientist in biotechnology company
– scientific project manager
Scientific Services Representative
Wellcome Sanger Institute
I am a scientist who now works in the office, and love talking about science and my work to anyone who will listen! After hanging up my lab coat, I now help to co-ordinate samples for other scientists to work on.
When I was younger I wanted to be a vet or a teacher, and in the end chose to go the science route, so I love opportunities to tell other people about science and my work (the best of both worlds of science and working with people!). I live in a small village with my husband and two sons and love gardening and am currently planning how to redesign our own garden. I also enjoy (?!) running and going for muddy walks and when the weather isn’t good enough for outside activities, board games are another favourite (although I can get rather competitive, even with my children). I love watching all sport and have been converted to a Norwich City football supporter. I also love shopping and therefore also Christmas and birthdays – my greatest satisfaction is finding the perfect present for someone!
My Work: I work in an office (not the lab!) and help to co-ordinate getting samples to our lab team, track what is happening to each sample as the DNA sequence is "read" and report back to the scientists who provided the samples to us.
I am a scientist who works in an office (so no white coat for me anymore!) and my main role is to help our lab teams to process the correct samples as smoothly as possible. I talk to the scientists who smash up and prepare the Darwin samples and then arrange for these samples to come into our labs.
Our lab teams take the samples and DNA from other scientists, prepare the DNA and then use machines to “read” the DNA sequence. This sequence then gets sent on to the “Code Crackers” where they can look at it further. I help to organise when the work in our labs is planned, which samples need to be worked on and also enter all of the information in our computer systems so that we know exactly what is happening to each sample and when. My job involves a lot of communicating with different lab people to understand what work needs to be done with each sample, if there are any problems or questions and also to report back on the results. I love working in a team and with different scientists and finding out about the detailed work they do.
I'm currently solving this problem:
My main way to approaching anything (in work life and home life!) is to make lists! I deal (electronically) will huge numbers of samples and find keeping detailed records of everything is my best way to remember what I need to do.
I'm currently working on these species doing this:
My department process whatever species are sent to us from the other labs and so are not involved in choosing what species are being worked on. I always like it when I recognise the name of the species we are working on though, as a keen gardener, I get excited when I see a plant name I recognise! I also enjoy looking up some of the species names we get on the internet to see what the actual organism looks like.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
shopping-mad sporty scientist
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I was originally interested in biology because of a love of animals and then when I started studying smaller and smaller things, I realised that DNA is pretty cool too!
What was your favourite subject at school?
Maths, biology and history (so a good mix!)
What did you want to be after you left school?
A vet or a teacher
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No, I was definitely one of the well behaved ones!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I’d want to be involved in science communication or access to science careers for women, I’m really passionate about that.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Oasis – I used to own everything they had released and finally got to see them on the last tour before they split up.
What's your favourite food?
Crisps and cheese
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Sky-diving and bungy-jumping
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
For some of my relatives that I miss to be alive again, for my children to live happy lives, (and for enough money to shop as much as I could possibly want!)
Tell us a joke.
What cheese do you use to hide a horse? Marscapone!