Photo:

Marikka Beecroft

SO much lab work to do!

Favourite Thing: I just love looking at the relationship between people and microbes because they affect so many aspects of our lives like our health, economics and politics.

My CV

Education:

Aylsham High School: 2003-2008. Paston College: 2008-2010. Aberystwyth University: 2010-2013. Durham University: 2013 – current.

Qualifications:

GCSEs: 9 A*- B. AS & A levels: B – D. 1st class Bsc Hons in Microbiology. PhD Microbiology & Biochemistry: TBC

Work History:

I’ve had jobs all throughout college and university, some are related to my job now and some not. At university I was sports officer for my student’s union and that was great as it taught me how to organise my time, resolve problems and materialise my ideas. All helpful in the work place and during your studies! I’ve worked on trying to figure out what and how many microbes live in the human mouth, whether or not these can be changed and if they affect your health. This information is now being used as a foundation for future work to see if microbes can effect your chance of getting oral or lung cancer.

Current Job:

Community representative, Lab Demonstrator and PhD researcher.

Employer:

Durham University and University College.

Me and my work

I mess with metals that bacteria need to grow and survive.

Certain chemicals (called chelators) can bind to metals. Certain metals, are needed by bacteria to grow because they use them to produce energy or help them cope with unpleasant environments. If you manage to bind the metals already or if you manage to stop the bacteria picking up those metals the bacteria can’t survive very well. Sometimes they die off or they try to find a different metal to use, overall though they can’t grow or divide so that’s when other antibiotics can come in to finish them off.

I am specifically looking at a chemical called EDTA, it is found in many (if not all household products) and helps antibiotics or preservatives kill bacteria. It is not known how they do it so I have to try and find out!

My Typical Day

Not everyday is the same!!

I grow bacteria up and sometimes smash them open to read their DNA and RNA,this is a good indicator of how bacteria are reacting and what they are “seeing” around them. Sometimes instead though, I look at their proteins specifically the ones they use to survive and see if they’re working properly. I grow bacteria and see how my chemicals are affecting them/how they are growing and I look at their structure and see if it is altered in some way with a microscope! This sounds boring but the microscope thing means I have to use a dye that glows and its actually really pretty!

What I'd do with the money

Lots of fun interactive things with students!

I want to make a series of animations and videos explaining the science behind stories you see and hear on the radio, TV and newspapers.

I also want to make videos and vloggs about being a scientist in general as well as going to schools answering their questions about science and doing fun microbiology experiments with them!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Full of Energy

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Artic monkeys or Royal blood.

What's your favourite food?

Spaghetti

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I’ve ridden a water buffalo in the Philippines. They are REALLY grumpy.

What did you want to be after you left school?

A doctor but then my grades at college were not as good as everyone predicted. I decided from that point on I’d do what really interested me: Microbiology and I realised I could still help people even if I didn’t do a medicine degree.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

No, my mum would’ve killed me! (My mum’s got a death stare that terrifies me even to this day).

What was your favourite subject at school?

Biology, particularly microbiology. Always has for some reason!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I’ve published in an international journal! People have commented and used the paper in their own work and I feel like I’ve contributed to the scientific community. That was exciting.

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

It wasn’t until I was university that I really knew I wanted to be a scientist, it was only when I started doing lab practicals and stuff I realised I loved it and that was what I was going to be! My lecturer as well (Luis Mur) was a big inspiration, he was your classic mad scientist and his enthusiasm was contagious!

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I would probably have opened a bakery. I love baking!

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Publish in Nature, be happy for the rest of my life and to own a basset hound.

Tell us a joke.

A mushroom walks into a bar and the bartender says “Sorry we don’t serve drinks to the likes of you” To which the mushroom replies “aww come on mate I’m a fun guy!”

Other stuff

Work photos:

myimage1

This is my co-worker Rob weighing chemicals out, to the right of him is the shelf full of all the stuff we use for biological tests and other things!

 myimage2

This is called a SDS-page or a protein gel. Proteins are just long chained compounds that can preform jobs in a cell, like little machines! Naturally a protein is folded but here we unfold them to see what’s being made.

 myimage3

This is the shaking incubator (or as I like to call it the shake and bake) where me and my research group grow our bacteria or fungi in.

 myimage4

My desk, please excuse the mess!