Cirencester Deer Park School (’82-’89), Nottingham University (BSc Hons, ’89-’92), University of Kent at Canterbury (PhD, ’92-’96))
Unniversity of Oxford
Crystallisation and Crystallography Manager
University of Oxford Biochemistry Dept.
Favourite thing to do in my job: Seeing new things! To me being a scientist is very much like being an explorer and I still get a big thrill every time I see something no-one has ever seen before.
I use a synchrotron like a giant microscope to take a close look at the building blocks of life.
I help other scientists to grow crystals of their interesting proteins and then to make sense of the information those crystals can show them. This means I can be looking at proteins from malarial parasites one day and drug receptors the next – all the variety keeps it interesting!
My Typical Day
Grow crystals, shoot crystals, use a computer to work out what the crystals can tell me.
The day varies a great deal because I never know what project I will be working on next. One constant feature is that interesting proteins are almost always reluctant to grow crystals, so I spend a lot of my time trying to convince them to co-operate.
Two or three days a month I will spend at the synchrotron. This tends to involve a mix of training students in how to carry out the experiments and getting as much information as possible out of every crystal I have available to me. This takes a bit of thinking about, since the synchrotron X-rays are so bright that they will destroy the crystals very quickly.
What I'd do with the prize money
Invest in teaching materials
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious, sceptical, thoughtful
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Not an achievement in science itself, but science has given me the chance to travel the world which is one of the best things about working as a scientist.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My Grandad gave me a microscope when I was six and I’ve been looking at new things ever since.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Once or twice! I always got bored easily but I’ve got better ways of dealing with that now.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably a writer
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
DJ’d for 500 people at New Year’s Eve
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Happiness, health and a work/life balance