will miss I'm a Scientist! Thanks to all the students that took part, I'll miss you!
Favourite Thing: I just love working in the lab! I like to get stuck in first thing in the morning: get my lab coat on, my safety specs, some gloves, and then get in there, roll up my fumehood window, turn the light on and get started!
Arbroath High School, 1998-2004
Masters in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry (2004-2009) at the University of Edinburgh
I used to work as a Peptide Scientist for Almac Sciences in Scotland.
University of Edinburgh, School of Chemistry. And my research is funded by Cancer Research UK.
I am doing a PhD in Bio-Organic Chemistry. I also work in the teaching labs on Tuesdays, teaching the 1st year students how to do their experiments. And I am doing a scholarship in Science Communication, creating and running science workshops in schools and at festivals.
Me and my work
I’m studying Cancer and trying to make a blood test so that we can detect it in the early stages.
I am studying these chemicals that are present in tumours in really high concentrations. These chemicals leak out of the tumour and into the person’s bloodstream. I’m trying to make a molecule in my lab that will act like a dye and when it recognises the cancer chemical, it will become fluorescent. So all the doctor will have to do, is add my dye to the patient’s blood sample and if it glows, then this means the patient has cancer. So hopefully this will be a really quick and easy test to help catch Cancer early!
My Typical Day
I work in the lab every day, trying out different reactions and new ideas.
Working in the lab is a lot of fun: I like working with my hands and watching things change in my flask as the reaction works. There are other scientists that work in my lab too and we are always chatting and arguing over which radio station to listen to and joking around. And it’s great to have people to talk to about your work because sometimes you get really stuck and they can have some ideas to help.
What I'd do with the money
I’m currently making a workshop about cancer to run in schools for free and the money would help me pay for the materials.
So I’m doing a scholarship in Science Communication where I go to science festivals (like the Edinburgh International Science Festival) and secondary schools and run workshops and activities about the work that I do. Cancer has affected so many families and it means a lot to me to go and meet people and teach them about Cancer and Cancer Research. I believe that these activities should be free to all and this means that I pay for a lot of the equipment myself. I think that the prize money could help me run at least 50 more workshops in lots of different schools.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Motivated, caring and hard-working
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I’d have to say Ben Harper. (If you haven’t heard of him, listen to this song on you tube: Walk Away With Lyrics) it’s amazing
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Learning to ride a motorbike! I love my motorbike, it always makes me feel really energised when I get to work, it’s just so much fun!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) I’d wish that my research would actually work and that it helped save lives. 2) That one day I could live in a house in the countryside where I’d have a massive garden and loads of chickens (I already have 4 chickens, they are kind of addictive!). 3) I think my final wish would be to be happy and less stressed forever more!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to do Cancer Research. It’s so funny that that’s what I’ve actually ended up doing! I decided to go to uni and study medicinal chemistry and I thought that if I didn’t end up in Cancer Research, I would do drug discovery instead.
Were you ever in trouble in at school?
Ha ha! Yes! I got into trouble for chatting and being late for class. And I was always getting into trouble in Chemistry class. I once set fire to my desk in Chemistry, but it was an accident! Although, another time I did burn my name into the Chemistry floor with concentrated sulfuric acid. I visited my old school recently and my mark is still there! Ha ha! Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this…
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
I made a compound that had never been made in the whole world before! It’s chemical name is 2,2,5,5-tetramethylpyrrolinoxyl hydrazide but I’m going to come up with a more interesting name for it!
Tell us a joke.
What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you? … Nacho Cheese!