Education:Aberdeen Academy, University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon Institute of Technology
Qualifications:BSc in Biochemistry and a Diploma in Analytical Techniques
Work History:I've worked at a government research station, in a the quality control department of a small manufacturing pharmaceutical company before taking up my role with the University of Aberdeen
I'm a research technician
I work for the
unfortunately not at the picturesque campus above, but at the relatively new purpose-built Institute of Medical Sciences (below). The University was founded in 1495 and is one of the oldest in the UK. My building is home to lots of groups working in fields closely related to Medicine and we are based at the same site as the major hospital ARI (Aberdeen Royal infirmary) for the North of Scotland. This gives us very close links to patients and helps us move the science from the lab to the bedside.
Favourite thing to do in my job: There are so many favourite things in my job, I really enjoy growing cells in tissue culture, I enjoy DNA and RNA work but I really love the variety of things that we do in the lab.
I'm granny age but still full of enthusiasm for interesting questions
I live in the far north of Scotland (- well Aberdeen) with my family. We have 2 Scottie dogs and 2 cats and assorted grandchildren.
I’m a Star Wars fan – both extended and original screenplays and also a Star Trek fan – I think I’ve seen every episode of ALL the series!
I’ve been a Lego fan since I was wee and I still get a buzz about trying to be a Master-Builder.
I like to keep an open mind and like to think of myself as being very curious about anything and everything.
I'm working in an Immunology lab specialising in fungal disease
On the left is my favourite toy, a flow cytometer. This is used to separate different cell types into populations. these all have different properties and functions with the body. I look at cells in the blood or in tissues.
A main part of my work is producing antibodies, which have lots of uses in the laboratories, they can be used to separate different cells, recognise different cells and even block cells from doing their job. on the right I’ve 2 columns set up to isolate the antibody proteins from the media they were produced in. We grow cells that pump the protein out into the culture media and collect the media to get the protein – often litres of liquid for 1 or 2 thousandths of a gram!
I also use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to look at genes produced in cells. How they react to stimulus or stress. this can help us understand what happens in tissue or the body.
My day is very varied, sometimes I’m in the lab all day and other times I spend a lot of time at the computer doing analysis of the data I’ve collected.
As I said above, I don’t have a typical day – my work is very varied.
I can be collecting samples from volunteers – usually blood or I can be analysing data at the computer.
I enjoy a day when I’m in tissue culture, growing cell lines for experiments or for protein production. I find it very relaxing, even though I am working in a sterile environment conscious of not contaminating anything by touch (or even sneezing)!
I can be isolating DNA or RNA from cells or tissue or I can be designing experiments trying to figure out why the last one did not work!
Every day is different and never routine, and you always have to be prepared for the unexpected – be it a result, malfunction of an important piece of equipment or even a fire alarm.
What I'd do with the prize money
I'd like to buy small-hand friendly pippettes
I’d like to buy a set of child-friendly or small-hand size pipettes so we can take them into schools and teach techniques, calibration (weighing) to smaller pre-scientists.
We can use food colouring to make solutions and clear plates to look at volumes.
We cold also use them to explore surface tension of water on plastic – using small volumes to create spheres and droplets.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Happy, enthusiastic and helpful
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I've had a few friends and family who have suffered from auto-immune diseases, and that is such a fascinating subject
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemistry and French
What did you want to be after you left school?
Either and Air Hostess or a Chemist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Possibly looking after small children - only between 18 months and 5
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I like lots of music, but top of my play list at present is Joe Bonnamassa
What's your favourite food?
I like eating fish, so anything fishy/seafoody
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I want to keep being positive and enjoying what I do. I want to keep getting the buzz when something amazing happens in the lab and I want to keep doing what I like as long as possible
Tell us a joke.
I'm rubbish at jokes, I hear one, think it's funny but can't remember it! Simple ones make me laugh most, but somebody banging an elbow will also cause a smirk! Sorry :(