Backwell Comprehensive School, University of Cardiff, University of Bristol
GCSEs, A-levels, A-levels, BSc, PhD
University of Bristol as a scientist, and before that lots of places whilst studying e.g., cleaning, bar work, caterer in a hospital
Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Favourite thing to do in my job: Study hormones!!
Fun and very out-going!
- Fun-loving research scientist based at the University of Bristol.
- Enjoy the out-doors – walking, hiking, and running.
- Love a good dance!
- Love learning about hormone systems.
- Science is a good career for me as I am very inquisitive, love to learn new things, and get easily bored (and my job can be quite varied, so this suits me well).
I am interested in how and why the body releases the hormone cortisol when we are stressed and what this does to the body
- Interest: I am interested in how the body understands signals from hormones. e.g., how does the body listen to the female hormone oestrogen? And how does this lead to the development of the adult female body (secondary sex characteristics)?
- Background: Hormones typically bind to proteins called receptors. Receptors are found on or inside cells. It is the binding of the hormone to these receptors changes the behaviour of the cell.
- I started my career studying oestrogen receptors, and I was particularly interested in a newly discovered oestrogen receptor (GPER), that works very differently to traditional oestrogen receptors.
- I now work on the adrenal gland, trying to fully understand how, in response to stress, the body listens the hormone ACTH from the pituitary to cause the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) from the adrenal gland.
My Typical Day
You'll probably find me in the laboratory messing around with adrenal cells.
Depends on what I am doing.
Laboratory: My experiments are very varied. It will be anything from:
- Culturing adrenal cells (feeding them and making them happy)
- Stimulating the adrenal cells with ACTH to stimulate the release of cortisol.
- Using an exciting new optogentics technique to activate the adrenal cells with light (instead of ACTH) and stimulate the release of cortisol.
- Measure the amount of DNA, RNA, protein in the cells.
- Some experiments are very quick, and others are long…. I used to find experiments stressful, but the more I have done over the years, the more confident I have become and the less stressful and more fun they become! I love working in the lab as I can use my hands, potter around and am quite busy. Which makes me happy!
Here’s a typical experiment day:
- 9 am, set up my experiments.
- 10:30 am, tea-time with colleagues.
- 11:00 am, back on with experiments.
- 12:30 pm, I am hungry, so eat my lunch and then will do a bit of desk work or might pop out side to a walk around with friends.
- 1/1:15 pm, get on with my experiments…
- 5:30/6 pm home-time
Writing: If I have to write a scientific article of read other scientific articles I will be sat at my desk. Sometimes I work from home so I can sit and think without too many distractions.
- Sometimes I will be teaching students and other members of staff in the laboratory.
- I give a lecture on sex differences in hormone systems.
- I run tutorials to help medical students understand hormones and hormone tests.
- I give talks to schools about what it is like to be a scientist. Or teach them about my work.
- I also go to conferences to learn about other scientists work, and teach them about my own.
What I'd do with the prize money
OOOOh if I won I would like to make an interactive model to show how the body responds to stress
I do quite a lot of public engagement activities. It would be nice to have some fun tools to be help me explain how the stress hormone system affects the body and how my research helps us to understand the system better.
For example, I would like to make an interactive model to demonstrate 1) how the body responds to stress and the hormone cortisol; and 2) how I stimulate adrenal cells with light to release the hormone cortisol. I would also like to invent a ‘fun’ stress game to show how cortisol causes changes in the body so we respond to stress.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Excitable Entertaining Endocrinologist
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Train and help other really cool scientists.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
An amazing team of Neuroendocrinologists at Bristol University.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Drama, History, Science.
What did you want to be after you left school?
Something to do with science....and bodies.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No. Not really. If I was it was for laughing or chatting.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Bloc Party, Rudimental, Rhi Rhi
What's your favourite food?
I love all food. Apart from deep fried stuff. Too greasy for me.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
That's too difficult to answer. I've done lots of fun things. But Festival's are where I'm in my element.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Work wise: 1) to have a successful career in hormone research 2) that my work helps others. Life: 3) just live a happy life!
Tell us a joke.
A cross eyed biology teacher was fired because she could not keep her pupils straight