Thank you for all the votes! Going to miss having the live chats :(
Convent of Jesus and Mary – London 1999-2006
University of Bristol 2006-2009 ; University of Hull 2009 – Present
I had many part time and full time summer jobs while I was studying at University. Some of these jobs included being a shop assistant or a receptionist or a tutor.
Heart Researcher – PhD Student
University of Hull
Favourite thing to do in my job: To learn something new and exciting each day, this may be in the laboratory or something I read on Wikipedia; and to be able to share this new information with as many people as possible so I can get them as interested in science as I am.
I look at how your heart beats and how it might change as you get older.
In your body you have major organs, these include things like the lungs, the brain, the heart, the stomach and so on. The brain is an amazing organ and controls everything, so every time you move your eyes to read this sentence your brain is telling your eyes to move. Every time you breath in and out, your brain is telling your body to do that. Even when you eat, your brain is telling you to chew and when to swallow! But the one organ your brain does NOT control is the heart. The heart beats by itself and does this due to a bit of tissue called the sinoatrial node (SAN for short). This small bit of tissue allows the heart to continue to beat without the brain and even outside the body (as long as it is fed). This is how I am able to study the heart outside the body of an animal.
The heart is an amazing organ, it beats up to 90000 times per day and even more when you’re younger! It keeps you alive by giving oxygen and blood to your whole body.
My Science Work
I then place this tissue in a water bath, that is kept warm at all times. I place this in a massive cage that is surrounded by metal which stops any random electrical noise from getting in (shown in a picture below).
I stick on some very small needles that is attached to a massive box of machines and wires, which even I don’t know what they do!! (shown in the picture below).
I can take recordings from the heart which shows how fast it is beating and where the heart beat starts (shown in the picture below). I then add certain chemicals and see how the number of heart beats in a minute changes and whether this changes with age.
I can then use these recordings to find out where the heart beat starts. The picture below shows the different colours of when the heart starts to beat. Red shows where the heart beat starts, and then as it spreads out the colour changes to orange, then yellow, with the furthest points being green and blue.
My Typical Day
Wake up, walk to university, get the section of heart I want, study the heart sample, make recordings, clean the equipment, pack up, walk home.
Morning: I get up between 7.30am and 8am and walk to university every morning even if its raining or snowing. I occasionally even have to come in on Saturday and Sunday!! I get my heart samples ready. I place this in some warm salty solution that feeds the heart and allows it to continue to beat (as shown in the above video). This takes me a few hours and so by this time it is around 12pm/1pm. I do not have time to eat lunch 🙁
Here is a picture of the lab I work in:
Afternoon: I then take recordings from the heart which shows how fast it is beating and where the exact location of the heart beat starts. I then start to make my recordings. This experiment can take over 10 hours in a day and is very tiring, I sometimes leave the laboratory at 9pm or 10pm at night or even later! I clean the equipment and pack up and then walk home.
Evening: On some days I do not get home till very late and still have to eat my lunch! Or at this time of day I guess it is my supper! But if I finish at a normal time (7-8pm) then I get to relax by playing computer games, some of my favourite games includes Skyrim, Call of Duty, DOTA, Dragon Age and Heroes of Newerth. I always play these in small amounts as I have to get up very early so I never stay up too late.
What I'd do with the prize money
Fund a video to bring back dissections to the teaching environment and allow pupils to interact with scientists.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Motivated (I want to become a successful scientist); Easy-going (occasionally quite lazy); Geeky (I like computer games and science)
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Held a beating heart in my hand.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes – I was taken to see the Deputy when I accidentally damaged a poster on a school notice board :(
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Coldplay (though I do really like Jessie J at the moment)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Visited Africa and saw lions, zebras, elephants, hippos and a lot of monkeys.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
A) To become a famous scientist ; B) To win lots of money so I can fund my awesome science projects; C) To live forever, so I can see all the new technology in a 1000 years!
Tell us a joke.
Why did the boy eat his homework? Because his teacher said it was a piece of cake! :D