Cancer Researcher - Biology
EducationManchester University (2005-2015)Wardle High School and Sixth Form (1998-2003,2003-2005)
QualificationsPhD, MRes, BSc, 4 A levels, 1 AS level and 10 GCSEs
Work HistoryResearch Techncian at Manchester University Student Demonstrator and Student Ambassador at Manchester University
Current JobResearch Techncian
University of Manchester
Favourite thing to do in my job: Surprising results and problem solving.
About Me: My hair is always colourful and if I'm not in the lab you might find me hanging upside down in an aerial arts class, at a rock concert or a knit group.
My Work: I spend most of my time growing cancer cells. I try to find out how they grow and hopefully help find new ways to kill them or at least slow them down.
I started my work as a scientist lookin at the kidneys, which are really hard working organs. Normally your kidneys are amazing: they filter your blood far better than any machine can. Now I work in a cancer research lab.
My work is mostly on cancer cells or mice with cancer and we often change the cells to make the cells glow so we can track their movement in the body. I use a lot of tests to look at how well the cells grow in dishes and on plates. These tests can look at how fast the cells are growing, how well the cells move and how well the cells use energy. Using these tests we can try to use drugs on the cell to see if there are any useful targets that slow the cancer cells down.
This is the very start of cancer research that helps us understand how treatments work or how the cancer might become resistant to a particular drug.
We have to keep our cells growing, but some of the cells are left sleeping in temperatures of -196 degrees celsius so we can use them later.
My Typical Day: Most days I need to feed the cancer cells that I have growing in dishes. Some days are spent making cancer cells glow or testing how a drug changes the behaviour of the cells.
I’m in the lab a lot,
I have microscope slides with kidney on them that get washed and then stained all different colours. With other slides I might be looking for something really small – so I have to use antibodies to find it, those slides end up brown which is a bit of a boring colour!
Antibodies are like little clothes pegs that can only peg certain things to the washing line, so you know what you’ve found if it clips on! They are really really special clothes pegs and usually only peg to one thing out of the MILLIONS in my kidney slices.
If I need some urine samples I put my rats in specially made cages that collect the samples – I always give my rats a treat when they have been to the toilet. The treat food is mash, it looks like squishy breakfast cereal but they really like it and will take it out of my hand.
Email and filling are the less fun aspects of my day.
I like bright colours – and I’m easy to spot in a crowd, unless you’re little like me too:
As part of a workshop me and some friends came up with the insulin game. It needs making better, and I think it’d be more fun using the ‘parachute’ I remember from school.
It’s a very interactive way to understand the difference between the types of diabetes. I would need to develop info packs/ leaflets too.
Thsis question got me thinking – I wonder if I could make a ‘model kidney’ that works on similar principles as a real kidney. Like the balloons in a bell jar I remember at school that were supposed to be a pair of lungs…
I’ve given a detailed description of the game here: https://hormonej13.imascientist.org.uk/2013/06/20/what-is-the-diabetes-game/
It will be improved as it’s played though!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Penguins, Purple and (rock) Music
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
Teachers at high school – though they wanted me to do physics
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology or Chemistry
What did you want to be after you left school?
Scientist or Nurse
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was always a little late…
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I'm not actually sure
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Get rid of inequality, an admin fairy, peace
Tell us a joke.
What is brown and sticky? A twig