Thanks to everyone who took part! Great questions and banter!
Favourite Thing: Be the first in the world to discover a new piece of information and then sharing it!
Kesteven and Grantham Girls School, Grantham, Lincolnshire (1994-2001); University of St. Andrews (2002-2006); University of Dundee (2006-2010)
‘A’ levels Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and General Studies; BSc (Hons) Human Biology; PhD
University of Dundee (2010-present)
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
University of Dundee and my boss Dr Graham Rena.
Me and my work
Learning how a diabetes drug works to improve it and to provide a better understanding of type 2 diabetes.
I have always had a love of science, in particular anything to do with the human body. As a little child I was captivated by a TV show called Once Upon A Time…. Life. Even to this day I remember the little cartoon characters representing different things in the body like red blood cells and bacteria. I wanted to understand how the body worked and from that day anything science related was of interest. Especially at secondary school, I loved science lessons and knew then I wanted to pursue science at university.
At university I studied Human Biology at St. Andrews. While there became interested in neuroscience and decided I wanted to continue on in science by doing a PhD in a neuroscience area. I got a place in Dundee to do a neuroscience-related PhD looking at type 2 diabetes, however, as science is so unpredictable it ended up being nothing to do with neuroscience! After my PhD I changed research fields and moved into cancer research where I learnt lots of new techniques which I have brought back with me to diabetes research when I returned two years ago knowing that this was where my true interest lies. Today I do research into how metformin, the number 1 drug treatment for type 2 diabetes, works. Exciting work!
Since my time as a PhD student I have been involved in science outreach taking part in science festivals and other activities. Since 2010 I have been a STEM ambassador and through that I found out about I’m A Scientist and here I am!
My Typical Day
There is no typical day in scientific research – that is why I love it!
As there is no typical day I will tell you a little about one of my days this week – Thursday.
Morning: I started treating liver cells (the main site of action of metformin in the body) with different doses of metformin (the drug I am investigating) for a number of different experiments. These included looking at the release of glucose by the cells, release of ATP (the energy currency of a cell) and changes in the cell response by protein (samples generated will be later used in Western blotting). I also did some ordering of items I need for future experiments and wrote my lab meeting presentation.
Afternoon: I completed two of the experiments I started in the morning and stored the samples in the freezer for later analysis. I had a tea break – I love tea – with some colleagues. The final part of my day was presenting my recent results in a lab meeting to my boss Graham and other lab members Calum, a PhD student and Jean, a retired scientist who volunteers in our lab. All the lab are going to America for the American Diabetes Association conference in Boston at the beginning of June so we discussed final plans. This is my first international conference and I am presenting a poster of my data there. It will also be very exciting to meet the top researchers – scientists and clinicians – in the field.
What I'd do with the money
An activity loan box on hormones including parts on insulin and diabetes and I will premier the activities at the Women in Science Festival in March at my local science centre.
Our local science centre has topic based loan boxes available for local schools to use (http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/dundee/science-live-event-encourages-dundonians-to-stay-healthy-1.820399), in conjunction with them I plan to spend the money to make a box about hormones with some specific activities on insulin action and diabetes. As I am a Science, Technology, Engineering And Technology (STEM) Ambassador and every year our local science centre hosts the annual Women in Science Festival in March. I plan to take part with an activity stall to premier the activities in the box at one of the centres open days about insulin and diabetes.
In January I took part in a Saturday Science Live event in a local shopping centre and there was lots of interest by the children and their families in (http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/dundee/science-live-event-encourages-dundonians-to-stay-healthy-1.820399)
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, kind, hard-working
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
I love to try lots of new different foods from around the world but my ultimate favourites are coconut ice cream, cheese and steak!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Too many to list! Drive a dune buggy in the desert, take the Staten Island ferry in New York, go on a school exchange to Japan!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Something in science
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Rarely – I was the class swot!
What was your favourite subject at school?
Science and Art were equal favourites
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
Go to Kuwait and teach at the Dasman Diabetes Institute about the science of diabetes.
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
My secondary school science teachers Mr McCabe and Mr Taylor but my interest in science came from a tv cartoon program called Once Upon A Time…. Life – it fascinated me!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Something science related – either a science teacher or working in science outreach.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be able to continue doing the job I love for as long as I want; for my family to be healthy and happy; and see as much of the world and experience as many new things as possible.
Tell us a joke.
What’s yellow and highly dangerous? Shark infested custard! (A classic!)
Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait where I got to visit and teach doctors and people working in the diabetes field about the science of diabetes. Running a lab practical in a new place was a BIG challenge but fun!
Me in Kuwait. It was great to escape the Scottish winter for a short while and enjoy some sunshine and learn about a new culture. In the little bit of downtime I got to visit a mosque, a local market and try local food – delicious!
My lab. Three of us use this area currently. Myself, Calum (PhD student) and Jean (our volunteer who is a retired scientist). In September a new PhD student starts called Lisa.
My lab bench which I have tidied just for you to see! To the left are my pipettes and in the boxes are their tips. To the right is a stirrer for mixing solutions on. On the shelves are various solutions I use in my experiments, racks and my all important lab gloves!
Me by my poster at the American Diabetes Association conference in Boston, USA. I present this poster on Sunday 7th June. Sorry I’m upside down – I can’t seem to correct it!
All the posters at the conference – thousands all on different aspects of diabetes.
Me in Boston at the conference.
Me at a recent science outreach event as reported by a local paper.