Westcliff High School for Girls (2003-2010), University of Warwick (2010-2013), University of York (2013-present)
BSc Biochemistry, A-Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths, and Further Maths
PhD research student
University of York
Favourite thing to do in my job: Learning something new, trying out new experimental techniques, and inspiring others to get involved in science
Bacteria make lots of proteins. I am trying to work out which of these proteins are needed to invade the cells in our body.
I work with a bacteria called ‘Chlamydia trachomatis‘, which causes the sexually transmitted disease ‘chlamydia’. This bacteria is intracellular, which means that it lives inside our cells. Normally when bacteria invade our cells they get destroyed by a dustbin-like compartment known as the lysosome. But Chlamydia trachomatis is different. This bacteria is able to hijack the usual system that would otherwise destroy it, and instead create its own home where it’s able to replicate and steal essential nutrients from the cell.
Not much is understood about how Chlamydia trachomatis is able to avoid being destroyed by the cell. That’s where I come in! I’m trying to identify proteins that the bacteria produces that enable it to avoid being destroyed in the dustbin-like lysosome.
The more we understand about how the bacteria invades our cells and manages to survive within them, the easier it will be to design and develop effective antibiotics that can be used to treat infected patients and also develop vaccines to prevent other people from being infected.
My Typical Day
Every day is different, but will always include lab experiments, reading about other people’s research, writing reports…and of course, a cake!
Working in science naturally means that no two days will be the same! I am mostly in the lab carrying out experiments trying to identify which proteins are involved in bacterial survival. I have the opportunity to use a range of experimental techniques, which always makes the day more exciting! Outside of the lab, I also write reports, analyse data, and read papers about what other scientists are doing.
What I'd do with the prize money
Host an activity stand at a science fair
If I win I’m A Scientist, I would like to use the prize money to organise and host an activity stand at a science fair in York. Throughout the year, there are several events throughout the city that enable scientific researchers to engage with the public in a fun and interactive way to raise awareness of the research we do and to make science fun and accessible to everyone. I would like to host a stand specific to bacterial infections to raise awareness of the need to understand how pathogens work and how essential it is to develop treatments and therapies, particularly in a world where antibiotic resistance has become a global threat.
Alongside this, I would also like to make a small donation to the Lymphoma Association, a charity close to my heart, to help fund further research into this area of science.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Fun, friendly, ditzy
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Travelled to New Orleans for a conference and met leading researchers in the field
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I really wanted to help find a cure for a disease to save lives
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I love baking, so I’d love to open up my own little cake shop
Who is your favourite singer or band?
There’s too many to choose from!
What's your favourite food?
Definitely chocolate and cake! I’m a big fan of anyone who gives me a chocolate cake!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Flown into the Grand Canyon by helicopter for horseback riding Wild West style! (Despite my fear of horses!)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1) Have lots of money! 2) Live a happy and fulfilled life with no regrets 3) Can I wish for more wishes…?!
Tell us a joke.
Why are there no antibiotics in the jungle? Because parrots-eat-them-all